Tag Archives: taoism

Single Shot: Welcoming the Ghosts

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!

 

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Priests at Mazu Temple

This was taken at a recent celebration at Mazu Temple, Jhubei. These men were part of a group of about seven who participated in a small “side ceremony” as festivities and fireworks filled the rest of the area. My 35mm f/1.8 was pushing it, though I was able to get decent shots without blinding them with flash at ISO 1600.

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More from the Big Buddha of Baguashan (八卦山)

On Monday, I posted about the Big Buddha of Baguashan (八卦山), a large Buddhist monument near Changhua City (彰化巿) which sits atop a small mountain overlooking the city. Here are some more shots from that trip:

Above: A visit to this statue includes a beautiful panoramic view of Changhua City. I didn’t even try to capture it all – but the viewing platform gives a good view of about 180 degrees.

Inside the statue is a large amount of varied Buddhist art, which is narrated in English and Chinese by conveniently-located plaques near each display. While the bottom floor is a temple proper, the upper levels include areas to learn about the stages in Buddha’s life and important moments in Chinese Buddhist history.

  

  

  

Above right: behind the statue is a large temple dedicated to Confucius (孔夫子) and Guan Gong (關公), the Chinese god of war. I’m not sure what was on the top level as I didn’t have time to look, but you can certainly see a melting of Buddhist and Chinese culture in this temple complex.

  

On the way up to the temple is a line of about 50 Chinese gods. They make for some interesting photography as each has a different personality, expression, and look.

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Hall of Gods

These are shots of a hall of gods at Dajia Mazu Temple, Taichung County. This room has covered walls on two sides with these colorful statues, which overtake the senses, to say the least.

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Soutian Temple, Songboling

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.

Shoutian Temple, Songboling, 34

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.

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Digging through the Archives

Since last weekend was full of nasty weather, I don’t have much in terms of recent work, so here are some images that, for whatever reason, haven’t been posted yet. Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Mazu Festival: Hello/Ni Hao!

Mazu Festival, Changhua.

        

Left: Longshan Temple, Taipei. Right: Hakka Tea House, Beipu.

Temple Procession, Jhubei.

Hsinchu Train Station, Hsinchu City.

Mazu Festival, Changhua.

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Goddess of the Sea

Before I begin, I should mention and thank GigGuide.tw, a primarily English music site in Taiwan which chronicles music on the island. They featured some of my photos in a Spring Scream guide – check them out here.

Instead of covering more bands, as I planned, I’ll switch back to Taoism after some incredible events last weekend.

One of the largest pilgrimages in the world is underway. While many people think of the Muslim Hajj in Mecca or the various festivals in India which draw millions when it comes to these events, a festival currently underway in Taiwan is drawing huge crowds for Mazu, goddess of the sea.

Mazu is worshiped across East and Southeast Asia – especially by seagoing people as in Taiwan. Her blessing is seen as so powerful that people all over Taiwan and some outside of Taiwan will be sure to visit her as she makes her way through various cities.

Last weekend, I went with Yuling to witness such an event in Changhua, a city just south of Taichung.

This festival is indeed a pilgrimage – and a large one at that. It snakes around Taiwan, through various cities which are all excited at the presence of one of the most important gods in Taiwan. The parade processions include costumes, banners, fireworks, horns, and as said earlier, massive crowds. A perfect day for a camera. With the crowds and smoke, my 35mm f/1.8 never left the camera body.

Participants, like these seen above, wear simple clothing and are fed by people while making the trek throughout the island. I was offered food and drink multiple times by complete strangers, testament to the attitude of giving throughout the day. Many temples set out vegetarian food which was free in exchange for a small temple donation.

These scooters were caught up in the endless traffic. We actually left Changhua before it got even worse, with thousands filling the streets at night.

The people kneeling above are prostrating themselves so Mazu’s altar will pass over them. It is said to bring blessings if she visits you – even more if she passes directly overhead.

This man looked over his shoulder at me as the sparklers coming from the sky rained down – the parade had to stop multiple times for fireworks, sparklers, and other things which purposely try to keep the goddess in the town as long as possible so she will bless the residents.

These men were carrying banners and large spears ahead of Mazu as a sort of honor guard. It was great to spend time with the parade in the evening as we got some beautiful light from the setting sun.

   

Left: The crowds in the above photo are waiting for Mazu to arrive as fireworks are laid out before her altar moves through. Right: …and some fireworks to finish off this post. I’ll be back later with another post about this huge event, I’m sure.

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A Short Break from Concerts…

I’ve got a LOT of material to post from Spring Scream. Since I don’t want this to suddenly turn into a concert photography blog, I’ll hold off until next week.

These shots are from Fu-an Temple, a religious site we made a day trip to while visiting Kenting. The drive was somewhat long by scooter, but it was worth the wait. While we were visiting, a temple procession of gods visited the site.

These spirits – representing the “Eight Generals” are common in Taiwan. You’ll see them throughout this site and in many of these ceremonies.

This man was front-and-center during the ceremony, holding offerings to the visiting gods.

I understand why these road cones were here, but they do take away from the image. With that much gunpowder and fireworks going off, I’m glad they were set along the sides, though.

This joss chimney is apparently a pretty popular one in Taiwan – known for a special way that it burns ghost money. I’ll have to read again why exactly it’s special, but it was big nonetheless.

The temple was about 5 stories tall with some great views of the city in store for those who made it to the top. The stairs were not a big deal, but walking in the temple involves navigating a giant cloud of incense which only gets worse at the top.

This mobile altar has a god visiting the temple – a common occurrence in Taiwan.

…and finally a man cleaning up after the firecrackers.

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Kaohsiung Pagodas

More from Kaohsiung, this time from Lotus Lake, an area with quite a few temples surrounding the general area.

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At the Temple

Since I finally have time off from work, I’m spending my day cleaning the apartment and later will be welcoming some family members to Taiwan to wander around the island with me as we celebrate Chinese New Year.  I’ll try to post, but won’t be writing heavily – though I’ll be taking lots of photos during this time.

Here’s a wish for everyone to have a prosperous year - 新年快樂!

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