Fish, Fisheries and Queryomics
Beel is very excited. The past few days have seen the start of two fish festivals in China. Please let Beel present a brief account of these festivals.
The China Daily reports that the Hulun Lake Fish Harvest Festival, which celebrates a traditional local winter fishery, opened yesterday (Monday) morning. The fishery, which involves fishing with large nets beneath the ice, has been kept alive for hundreds of years by peoples native to the area around this Inner Mongolian lake.
Hulun Lake is one of the five largest freshwater lakes in China with an area of 2,339 square kilometers and the festival begins only after the lake has completely iced over. Lake Hulun is home to more than 30 species of fish.
Before the fishing commences, a religious ceremony is conducted. Out on the ice, at some distance from the shore, a temporary platform and altar were erected. The altar was piled with sacred Marnyi stones (carved praying stones) and the heads of a cow and pig, along with fruits and snacks, were placed on the altar as a sacrifice to the Lake God.
A woman wearing a traditional red Mongolian costume was joined by four young men, each of whom also wore traditional clothes, in song and dance around the Marnyi stones. Each of the dancers held a bowl of liquor that was poured into a hole cut through the ice, while additional sacrifices were placed on the altar to seek the Lake God’s blessings.
After a prayer was offered, the fishermen stood, drank liquor from their bowls, and poured the remaining liquor onto the lake ice. This marked the beginning of the year’s winter fishery.
At last, says Beel, there’s fishin’ to be done.
Fishing is conducted by deploying a large net through holes cut in the ice. At about 1:00 in the afternoon, tractors pulled a winch that closed the net, and the net was retrieved. A single haul can yield more than a ton of fish.
As the net is retrieved, fish emerge from the water, and the crowd cheers wildly. Woo hoo, says Beel!
Meanwhile, on Ulunggur Lake, Xinjiang, the 8th Ulunggur Lake Winter Fishing Festival kicked off last Saturday, according to a Global Times report.
This fish festival also celebrates the traditional use of nets deployed under the ice. The Global Times did not given much ink to this festival, but did publish some lovely photographs.
Finally, Beel notes these two festivals, and the fisheries they celebrate, are similar to the Chagan Lake Fish Festival that began last December in Jilin Province, China.