Poye Polomi!

I absolutely adore A Chinese Ghost Story. It's the very first wire-fu film I've ever seen, and I have very fond memories of it. I think it was this film that started my insatiable appetite for everything Chinese, which would end up with my writing The Celestial Empire because of my dissatisfaction with all the other 'Oriental' rule systems I'd tried.

Anyway, one of the recurring funny scenes of A Chinese Ghost Story is when the mad Daoist magician casts offensive spells at the demons and blasts them whilst chanting the mysterious POYE POLOMI mantra.

I have been wondering for years if 'Poye Polomi' was some kind of crazy invention by Tsui Hark or some Cantonese mumbo jumbo. Well at last I know what it is: it turns out that it is the Cantonese pronunciation of the five first syllables of the phrase 般若波羅蜜多 (bōrě bōluómìduō), which is the Chinese transcription of the Sanskrit word prajñā-pāramitā, which appears in the Heart Sūtra.