On the weekend of 10/10, a drum festival was held in Jhubei which included not only Chinese drumming, but also some influences from across Asia. In addition, some Taiwanese pop stars performed at the end of the show, most notably A-Lin, who I’ll make a post about later.
These shots were taken with the slow but still usable 70-300. With the stagelights, I was usually able to make things work at 1/100 shutter and ISO 1600.
The above group was part of a traditional Hakka performance.
Apsara, the traditional Cambodian ballet which dates back thousands of years, is a dance form which is a bit of a mainstay of southeast Asian culture. Many people associate the dance form with Thailand, but Cambodia and Thailand probably share this form as a result of their Hindu-influenced strains of Buddhism.
We saw this performance in a pretty luxurious hotel (which we didn’t stay at) which offered a dance and a dinner for about $25 – a fortune for a meal in Cambodia. Also included was a form of Cambodian folk dance.
While we were seated near the front and I soon noticed photos were OK, I had trouble with the stage lights being unpredictable, not wanting to use flash (though others did), and the movement of the dancers being much quicker than I had realized.
Left: I included this image from Angkor Wat to show you how similar these dancers are. They could be apsaras or devatas, and I’m am not 100% certain.
Above: a representation of the killing of a demon. I believe this relates to the Hindu story of the Ramayana, detailing the stealing away of an Indian princess named Sita and the rescue of her by Rama, an avatar of Vishnu.
This post includes more shots from Songboling, this time at Shoutian Temple (受天宮).
These temple parades are becoming quite common on my blog, but I love them for their energy, unpredictable nature, and for the amount of culture that is wrapped up in just a few short hours. As usual, this one included old and young, male and female. I’m not sure if it was a special occasion, but it seemed as if everybody had huge amounts of energy and dedication.
A man takes off a costume after a dance in front of the temple. The costume involved two parts – front and rear – that both danced in sync.
This truck was full of musicians – this man is banging on a gong while another hits on drums and a third plays the suona.
This branch symbolizes the beginning of most parades and acts as a way to symbolize the coming of the gods.
The beginning of the temple parade before it ended up heading out into the market. Notice the walking gods in the back – I didn’t get a chance to get them up close.
Before I start today’s post, I wanted to remind you that I’ve made a slideshow of photos showing off what I’ve seen in my first three months in Taiwan. I’ve now posted this to Youtube as well. Click here for the Youtube version.
Yesterday, I ventured outside the apartment door to get some photos of something going on in a nearby park that was making an awful lot of noise at 9am on a Saturday. What I found was a Catholic church event which was pretty heavily attended. This was interesting to me and makes sense in this area as Christianity in general is pretty popular – though not nearly as popular as the Taoist/Buddhist beliefs.
What was particularly fascinating to me was the context this was all wrapped up in as I saw people selling things and taking part in very Chinese cultural activities in lieu of your “Western” church cookout. Nuns were everywhere as were a few other foriengers – but not from Europe/America. Instead, these foreigners were Africans who were obviously involved with the church. Even though a religion which was introduced to Taiwan through Western missionaries was the area of focus here, I was the only Caucasian around. Hmmm.
I’d have to say that the other thing that was interesting was the amount of things being sold. While I know this can be said in a negative/stereotypical way, the Chinese love to sell things. You see this in their culture – even in religious beliefs. I’d never expect to see a church event in the US met with people hawking cheap toys or plants – and definitely not selling stinky tofu. I wonder if this plays into Chinese Christianity – and how it might have a role in shaping how they see the religion.
One of the more impressive groups was a drum group made up of kids in grade school through junior high. I’m wondering if this is connected to last week’s drum festival… regardless, these kids were very, very impressive. Notice the Catholic symbols on the banner behind them.
This weekend became a time of remembering Hurricane Ike, which came through my community in Texas about two years ago and devastated much of the surroundings – and in addition gave us all two weeks of unneeded “vacation” as students and teachers.
Oddly enough, I had another storm come in right about the same point that I was previously at in the school year. This time, a typhoon – called Fanapi, which is a Micronesian name for “sandy islands” was scheduled to hit in north-central Taiwan over the weekend.
It’s interesting to see how Taiwanese react to these storms. They’re a normal part of life, and if this one hadn’t been so strong, I doubt many people would’ve reacted seriously to it at all. Thankfully for my area, it mostly went south – we got very little rain but certainly did get some heavy winds.
Yuling, my girlfriend, had me join her family for a Moon Festival barbeque today. As a result of the storm, we were treated to some amazing skies – half blue and half a slightly spinning gray. One of the areas I checked out in her grandparents’ rural community of Sinwu was a statue and temple dedicated to Mazu, Chinese goddess of the sea. Photos follow.
The sheer size of this statue made it hard to capture. For this reason, I did not get a good HDR of the entire ~50ft. bronze behemoth. What you see is the goddess looking toward the sea (west – away from where the typhoon was coming) with two spirits near the bottom acting almost as assistants. You can see one of them pointing to his eyes and the other to his ears. They have these odd headdresses that look like horns…
The following is an HDR of the top part. I had to use the 70-300mm for this because of the size of this thing!
Above is the altar – which you can’t see in the first picture. It is situated at the base of the main statue and gives a place for people to offer prayers and incense to the sea goddess.
Above we have the main temple building in HDR. The temples in this rural area are very ornate – and numerous.
The temple interior had a lot of these lanterns hanging in an area that was naturally lit. You’d think I’d get sick of photographing these by now, but I was really impressed by the amount and played around a little bit with the depth of field. Check the Flickr by clicking on the photo to see the other shots of these I took.