The cage, jug, “small cleaning” and “big cleaning”

Because of the influence of arduous natural environment, living conditions and other aspects of factors, the life in the regions of Dongxiang nationality is not well off until now. But, maybe for the reason of believing in Islam, the people of Dongxiang nationality ardently love cleanness and are particular about sanitary conditions. 

When people from other places walk into the villages of Dongxiang nationality and enter the door of Dongxiang people’s home, they will firstly feel them very clean: it is all very clean in front of the house and behind the room; and the big and small articles are all placed tidily, the windows are bright and the tables are clean, the boxes and cabinets are all shining with luster. Besides, in Dongxiang, where it is dry and in lack of water, and the water is almost as expensive as oil, people all keep the bathing habit of “small cleaning” every day and “big cleaning” every week. 

Generally, the people of Dongxiang nationality do not use washbasins, but use “cages” and “jugs”. Therefore, “cages” and “jugs” are the necessities of every family of Dongxiang nationality. The “cages” are also called as “buckets” or “showering buckets”, they are the water cages made of pottery, wood or iron. At the bottom of the cage, there is a small hole, attached with wood plugs. Generally, they are hung on the roof beam behind the door. When using it, people can loosen the wood plug, and the water will flow out from the little hole. The “jug” is also called as “jug pot”, formerly named as “washing pot”, and also called as “Tang jug” and “Tang bottle”, and so on. It was a kind of water pot made of copper, enamel, tin iron and aluminum iron, and so on. It has flowing pipe and mouth. According to legend, it was firstly manufactured in the Tang dynasty. At that time, to show his friendship with the Arabians, Emperor Tang xuanzong specially appointed skillful craftsmen to make it by imitating the “washing pots” brought by Arabians. Arabians appreciated the exquisite technologies of the craftsmen of the Tang dynasty, and also were very thankful to the friendship with Tang xuanzong, so they named it as “Tang jug”. After that, it gradually became the household utensil commonly used by Dongxiang, Hui, Sala, Bao’an and other Islam nationalities. 

The “small cleaning” means to wash mouth, nose, face, elbows and feet with the water in jugs. The “big cleaning” is generally made once per week. Either for the “small cleaning” or the “big cleaning”, they are very particular about the washing and showering procedure. For example, the procedure of “small cleaning” is: firstly wash the hands three times, then wash the private parts three times, rinse the mouth three times, wash the nostril three times, wash the face three times, wash the right and left elbows three times, then use clean water to wet the hands and wipe the head, wash the ears, and wash the feet at last. At the time of “big cleaning”, they will firstly finish the “small cleaning”, then wash the body from right to left and from up to down by three times in sequence, and use clean towel to dry the body. They believe, the water that has touched the body and been used to wash is dirty, it cannot be dipped into the jug or eating utensils. Even when washing face, the two hands can only clean the face from up to down, but cannot repeatedly from up to down and from down to up.