I’ll take a break from posting a recent series from my last trip to Okinawa to show off something I saw last weekend at the Hsinchu City God Temple. This is part of a ceremony allowing and welcoming spirits to roam sort of “finish business” from the earthly realms. During this month, spirits are appeased and/or kept away from homes through incense and offerings and spirit money, or ghost money, is burned as an offering. I have some more shots from last year here.
As school is about to start, this is a bit of a culture shock to many foreigners entering Taiwan for the first time. It’s hard to believe this is the start of my third year on the island!
This shot was taken while visiting a main temple in Jhubei City a few weeks ago near the end of Ghost Month. These flags were set up with incense and a few small food items for the ghosts. After these items were used, the food is often given away by the temple.
These shots are from the past few weeks during Ghost Month and Yimin Festival. Ghost Month recently ended (and yes, I think I got the date right this time!) which usually signifies the beginning of the school year and the end of summer. While I don’t look forward to the weather changing, I’m excited about starting a new year.
These cards are used for divination or fortune-telling. You roll a certain number, match it with the card, and see what the gods have to tell you. Found at Yimin Temple.
Above left: an altar for ghosts at a Jhubei restaurant. Above right: a scooter drives pass a burning of “ghost money,” meant to be given to the ancestors.
Above: these guys were lighting fireworks out the back of a truck – unfortunately, I only got the end of it with the camera.
Above: a San Tai Zi (三太子) god with what look like “Mickey Mouse” gloves.
These are shots from last weekend at Yimin Temple, Hsinpu, Taiwan. Ghost Month just
ended passed its halfway mark and a major holiday around this time is the Yimin Hakka Festival, a time of remembering ancestors who fought a series of military victories in Taiwan. You can see more about the history of the festival on Culture.TW.
Unfortunatley, I caught the tail end of the Yimin celebration. The main altar for the temple which honors the ancestors was being carried out with much fanfare to go to nearby Jhubei for a large concert.
Above left: A woman takes part in an aerial silk show during the Jhubei concert. A large altar was set up for this performance and aimed at honoring the ancestors’ visit from the temple. This show was full of huge extravagant performances and was completely free for those in attendance – I was lucky enough to get a good spot with the 70-300mm. Above right: Ghost money at Yimin temple, used to burn and offer spiritual “money” to the deceased. This is very common during Ghost Month but also can be seen year-round. The notes usually have a Chinese king with ridiculously high denominations (perhaps 1,000,000) on the bills.
Tonight, I will be taking shots for part two of this post. There will be a contest for a sacrificial pig which will be put on display tonight at the temple. I am looking forward to seeing this as I missed it last year. Notice in the background of the incense above, the pigs put on display. These pigs were actually made out of noodles, interestingly enough – an obvious connection to tonight’s ceremony.
With the weather as nasty as it’s been, I thought I’d retreat to an older photo I took during a pre-Ghost Month festival/ceremony. I’m working on a slideshow of some of my photos and came across this – I really like the action here.
Interestingly, it wasn’t posted the first time I revealed this set of photos.
Yuling and I arrived to the Yimin Temple celebration of the Ghost Festival on Friday anticipating some pork. Well, at least what will become pork.
At the temple, a pig (yes, a whole pig) is offered to the ghosts and gods in order to bless the town and appease the ancestors. While this food source is NOT wasted (Chinese food rarely is!), its head is put on display for a time. We missed this event as we were too early, but managed to capture some temple music meant to entertain the spirits that walk the earth during ghost month.
The first thing I noticed was a stage to the side with a Chinese Opera performance. This is pretty common during ghost month as it is believed to “entertain” the ancestors.
The performance, I later learned, represents a distinct brand of Chinese opera here in Taiwan. Taiwanese opera has its own style – and is much different than the varieties you’ll see in Hong Kong, Shanghai, or (especially) Beijing – where it is known as “Peking” opera… by the former Westernization of the capital’s name.
The above jar of sticks are 求籤, or (Cantonese) Kau Cim. I’m not sure what the Mandarin translation is, but I remember seeing them at Hong Kong’s Wong Tai Sin temple.
The above photos show some temple musicians playing a call for the gods to join the ceremony at the temple. I was joined as a photographer by a large cadre of locals with DSLR cameras – I’m guessing they were covering the temple’s preparations for the event.
The instrument in the first photo is a Suona, as covered in one of my earlier posts. You can listen to the unmistakable sound it makes it at the Youtube video I posted there.
I know I’ve been posting a lot (you definitely know if you subscribe!) – but I wanted to get these photos up before the ghost festival starts again this weekend. The festival comes to a climax – first with Tuesday’s display of food and other offerings as well as the burning of “ghost money” and setting off of firecrackers. The ghost money mentioned involves these Taoist prayer sheets… meant to bring protection and good luck. This protection and good luck is implied because you are in a way giving money to the ancestors – as well as providing them with food and drink. Many of these tables – as you’ll see below – had food, beer, incense, and other items… sometimes a whole chicken with a head on – common in Chinese rituals.