Shen Dzu

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Shen Dzu in Zhong Yuan Festival, Taiwan.

Shen Dzu or God Pig, sometimes known as Holy pig[1] (Traditional Chinese: 神豬, Simplified Chinese: 神猪; Mandarin Pinyin: shénzhū, Wade–Giles: shen-chu, Hokkien POJ: sîn-tu), are pigs that have been chronically fattened for use in Hakka religious and cultural ceremonies, for example, the New Year Lunar celebration in Sanxia, northern Taiwan.[1] Pigs are fattened in a process similar to (and as controversial as) gavage to make them as large as possible in preparation for contests and awards at the festival. The heaviest pig is declared the winner and the owner may receive a prize. The winning pig and other pigs entered into the contest are ritually killed as a sacrifice to a city god or a local deity, a popular one being the deified Buddhist monk Qingshui Zushi.

After being sacrificed, the hair of the winning pig is removed or the bristles shaved into patterns, and the skin is stretched across a metal frame. Further decorations are added such as placing a pineapple in the pig's mouth. The stretched skin, along with the carcasses or stretched skins of the other fattened pigs, are then paraded on a float. Many Holy pigs end up weighing over 800 kg whereas a normal pig would weigh only 120 kg.[2][3]

In urban areas with no access to farms housing such large animals, or places where objections based on cruelty to the pigs has been raised, the contests instead have become art projects for children to create decorated pig statues.[4]


The practice of feeding the pigs to become so heavy has been criticised as inhumane and cruel, partly because the great weights limit the pig's movements and strains their internal organs.[2][1]

It has been claimed that some growers cheat by force-feeding the pigs lead or sand before they are weighed.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c "Holy Pig: Taiwan parade draws crowds and cruelty claims". BBC. 3 February 2017. Retrieved 3 February 2017. 
  2. ^ a b Huang, M. (3 February 2017). "Controversial 'Holy Pig' festival kicks off in Sanxia". Taiwan News. 
  3. ^ "'Holy pig' festival draws thousands in Taiwan but protesters decry cruelty". The Guardian. 24 February 2015. Retrieved 3 February 2017. 
  4. ^