UNIQUE GODS IN BANGKA
CONTENTS 1. Introduction of Bangka and Three Temples 2. Longshan Temple 3. Qingshan Temple 4. Bangka Qingshui Temple 5. How to Worship 6. Public Traffic Information 7. Conclusion
Introduction “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.’’-Marcus Garvey.
As Taiwanese, if we have ever paid attention to our daily life, what may astonish us all is the incontestable truth that we unconsciously do some religious events in daily life. As our dearest reader who is desire to know more about Taiwan, we must say that you have a sophisticated taste. This book is all about temples in Taiwan which have deeply influenced Taiwanese life in many aspects. Especially, Taiwanese are affected by temples both physically and psychologically. When stepping into temples, you will notice people with different emotions on their pious faces. Taiwanese always pray to gods no matter what they have been through. Sometimes, it is not for superstition, but for a sense of safety. The significance of temples goes without saying in the society of Taiwan. Once you come to Taiwan, there is one place you definitely won’t want to miss—Bangka —the origin of Taipei city, which is regarded as a huge melting pot that has mixed multi-culture and the complexity of history. This place is bearing the traces of our ancestors; hence, we’d like to dig out the spirit which is represented by the three temples there— Longshan Temple (龍山寺) , Qingshan Temple (青山宮), and Bangka Qingshui Temple (清水巖祖師廟). Bangka isn’t a large area, so we could find the features and elements of the three temples easily. They may look similar, while they are essentially distinct. Day by day, people in Bangka were much richer than before; as a result, there were many new establishments of temples, which respectively represented the power and belief of each region. Proverb has it that “ten go, six die, three stay and one turns back” (十去，六死，三留， 一回頭) to describe how rigorous it was to come across to Taiwan; furthermore, they had to confront the aboriginals and the rivals from other regions. Hence, the immigrants of Qing dynasty often built up temples at worship the gods in their hometowns to look for spiritual sustenance and congregate the power of gathering. Logically, temples turned out to be the center of the residents in their daily life while they also witness the history, multi-culture and one generation after another. So, temples in Taiwan always bear plenty of stories from 3
decades ago, and we are about to let you know the information of these three temples which remain high reputation and carry prayers’ expectation and belief. Who knows? Maybe you’ll discover some hidden stories from our telling that you’d like to read them again and again, wait and see!
Longshan Temple Introduction Let’s walk into Longshan Temple at Bangka as our first stop. It is the most famous Buddhist temple in Taiwan while symbolizes Taipei city’s historical development and distills the history of Taiwan’s early pioneering settlers. Longshan temple is one of Taiwan's busiest places of worship. It is always jam-packed with tourists who come to view this beautifully designed and well-preserved temple. When I firstly came to Taiwan as a young girl who was grown up in mainland China, Longshan Temple seems to have huge attraction for me as well. What I feel familiar with are its magnificent architecture and various gods. In a traditional Chinese temple, several buddhas will be set and worshipped. What seems to be different in Longshan Temple is that not only Buddhist statues are paced here, but also other religions’ such as Taoist and Chinese folk religions. I’ve never seen so many religions existing at the same place in mainland’s temple where every religion will be worshipped separately. It’s obvious there are many religions among Taiwanese, all of which are tolerated. In the same 4
way, people here built Longshan Temple with complex featuring multi-religion characteristics, focusing on “harmony” as well as “luxury”. And these elements will be shared with you soon in this chapter. The temple has a history that dates back to 1738 and also has a close relationship with the Hokkien immigrants who came to Taiwan several centuries ago. It carried the belief and expectation of the early immigrants. After they sailed across the strait, it was necessary to open up a new home land while the temples and religions were parts of their life of the essence. Longshan Temple is primarily dedicated to Guanyin (觀音菩薩), the Buddha of Compassion. Since Taiwan has experienced several breakdowns and regime changes, which leads to multi-culture situation. Especially, both mainland China and Japan have made deep influence. Thus,the combination of Taoist and Chinese Folk Religion deities making Longshan Temple a very convenient temple for the faithful of Taiwan. Over the years, however, it has become the spiritual and social heart of the city and today, along with the traditional shops in its perimeter, exists as a window into Old Taipei.
History Bangka Longshan Temple is an 1800 square meter temple in the Bangka district of Taipei. It was built in 1738 by Hokkien settlers from Fujian province who settled in this area. The original temple was modelled after a temple of the same name in Quanzhou (泉州) which is in Fujian province. Legend has it that some early Chinese settlers who arrived in Taiwan in the Yung-cheng period (1723-1735) hung a pouch of lighted incense on a tree. During the night the incense glowed with special brightness, indicating the presence of a deity, and so the proposal arose to build a temple on the site. When the temple was completed in 1738 the resident Guanyin statue was brought from China to share some of its “power” (分靈) with the newly constructed temple in the same sort of way that the Matzu statue from the popular Jenn Lan Temple (鎮瀾宮) does every year during the Dajia Matzu Pilgrimage (大甲媽祖繞 境進香). What’s more, it was firstly founded as an important place for the people of Bangka to gather to pray for blessings and to ask the gods for help in resolving various matters. The temple has a long history in Taipei but what most travel guides don't tell tourists is that what we see today isn't exactly the same as what you would have seen in 1738. The temple has met disasters several times and each time it had to be rebuilt. The first disaster happened in 1815 when a strong earthquake caused massive damage. The next time was in 5
1867 when a terrible storm tore it apart and finally in 1945 the temple was bombed by allied forces due to intelligence that said that the Japanese were hiding weapons inside. It is well known that the statue of Guanyin in this temple survived the bombing from the allied aircrafts on 8 June 1945. The whole main hall and a part of the right annex were burned out during the air raid, but the statue of Guanyin in the center of the main hall was left intact. This is the most famous manifestation of efficacy of Longshan Temple. Longshan Temple is not simply a classic example of a large example of a large temple; it has been at the forefront of the historical development of the city of Taipei itself. Being a masterpiece of traditional Chinese architecture and a well-established Buddhist temple in Taipei, the Longshan Temple of Bangka has become a center of people's religious life and a heritage of local culture. The government, therefore, assigned it a historical site of second grade on 19 August 1985, so that it would be preserved for future generations. Longshan Temple can rise victorious over any defeat and urge people to realize the cherished desires of their deep heart through the marvelous power of praying and blessing. While going through trials and hardship during its 270-year history, Longshan Temple gained the glory and came into being as "Taipei's Number One Temple".
Old Longshan Temple
Current Longshan Temple
Buddha Statues Longshan Temple is primarily a Buddhist place of worship dedicated to Guanyin (č§€é&#x;ł), the Chinese Buddha of Compassion. As a center of worship of the Bodhisattva Guanyin, Longshan Temple occupies a prominent place in the local hierarchy of Buddhist temples. 6
Thus, according to long-standing Chinese tradition, it’s entitled to stand aligned on a north-south axis with its entrance way facing due south. Longshan Temple is both old and new, old in terms of its profound roots in its time-honored history, and new in the sense of Taiwan’s complex development and change. Despite the fact that the temple is Buddhist, after possessing enormously rich cultural and historical heritage, it has also incorporated Taoism and folk religion as well which like almost every temple in Taiwan shows the tolerance of local Taiwanese for different religious traditions. What’s more, according to the old records, at the time of temple’s construction in 1738 the site was surveyed by a geomantic expert named Zhang Chayuan. It was he who determined the temple’s alignment and position according to the principles of Chinese geomancy, or “feng-shui”, whereby the site was held to be the “abode of a female beauty”. Consequently, he ensured that a large pond was built in front of the temple, conveying the implication that the “female beauty” should be able to “gaze into the mirror” of its waters. Unfortunately, it is now no longer possible to see this lotus pond, since in 1923 the site of the pond was filled in by the municipal authorities to create a park, and today the area is crowded with small shops.
The Structure Map of Longshan Temple
The temple is currently split into three different areas – The first which is somewhat of a fore hall (前殿) where people light incense and candles and perform religious activities facing the main hall. This area is always full of people and tends to be a bit crowded. 7
The Fore Hall（前殿）
Now we pass through the fore hall and into the central courtyard. Here the majestically tall and evocative edifice of the main hall (大殿) greets the visitor’s gaze. The main hall occupies a central position in the temple precinct, being surrounded by the adjoining ante-rooms and a covered promenade, with the fore and rear hall (後殿) situated before and behind.
The Main Hall（大殿）
The main hall is where you will find the statue of Guanyin (觀世音菩薩). It is enshrined in the center accompanied by other two bodhisattvas, Manjusri (文殊菩薩) at the left and Samantabhadra (普賢菩薩) at the right. The eighteen Arhats (十八羅漢) are also present on both sides as attendants.
As the young generation who was born in Taiwan, the most common perception of Guanyin (觀世音菩薩) comes from the elder generation. According to my friends’ telling, they would go to temples with their grandparents when they were little. Since most elders were quite familiar with the process of worship and the buddhas in temples, their grandchildren were required to earn a basic knowledge of the holy. In terms of Guanyin, which is an East Asian bodhisattva which is known as “The Goddess of Mercy” in English and literally known as "The One Who Perceives the Sounds of the World" as well. She relates to compassion and venerated mostly by the followers of Chinese folk religions. Therefore, many people will buy a necklace with Guanyin jadeite pendant which is usually worn as an amulet to bring good fortune and as protections against harm and evil. The statues will even be placed at home for the same reason. From these sincere, religious behavior, we are able to tell how much people worship Guanyin in Taiwan.
“Masterfully carved of camphor wood, Guanyin sits erect and calm, despite having seen the temple through trying times.” 1And the mysteries of Guanyin are not only reflected in its stand still over any destruction but are also presented through its manifestation. There are many folk stories still spreads abroad among Bangka people. Through knowing these immemorial stories, what we will obtain is taking a tumble about why Longshan Temple means a lot for local people. In Qing dynasty, a sailor was resting in Bangka area, and he hung a bag of incense which was embroidered that reads “Guanyin of Longshan Temple” in forests. What’s more, the forest seemed to have a sort of phosphorescence upon it at night. And the local gentry worshiped it a lot after hearing it. In addition, in the time of World WarⅡ, the citizens in Bangka would hide under the table in the main hall of Longshan Temple to prevent air attacks. In 1945, Taipei was air attacked at night. The enemy took Longshan Temple as the place where the authority was located by mistake. Then the entire main hall was destroyed except the Guanyin Statue. Even more remarkable, since people couldn’t tolerate the noise made by mosquitoes, nobody hid under the table in the main hall that night! Later, citizens in Bangka regarded it as the manifestation of divine Guanyin’s power and glorified Guanyin more. Every great thing has its own meaning of its existence. Guanyin buddha in Longshan Temple is what gives a human being a part of his identity and offer a guidance when they feel lost. It always has power to embrace and motivate someone to act and think.
Quoted from <Step Inside Taiwan’s Famous Longshan Temple>
Manjusri (文殊菩薩 ) is known in Taiwan as Wenshu. His name means "Gentle Glory" in Sanskrit. And he is associated with prajñā (transcendent wisdom).
Samantabhadra (普賢菩薩) is a bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism which is commonly known as Puxian in Chinese. What’s more, it’s associated with practice and meditation. As you can see through the window, the buddha is holding a flower in his hand and looks peaceful and holy.
The Eighteen Arhats (十八羅漢)
The Eighteen Arhats (十八羅漢) are depicted in Mahayana Buddhism as the original followers of the Buddha who have followed the Eightfold Path and attained the Four Stages of Enlightenment.2 After sightseeing the fore hall, we will step into the rear hall which was built around the end of the eighteenth century after Bangka was assigned as an official port for the trade with Quanzhou and Fuzhou city in 1792 by the Chinese government. When the temple was first established, it was only for the Buddhist deities as the main hall shows. As a result of mutual business, the merchant of Bangka erected the rear hall to venerate their patron Matzu (媽祖/ 天上聖母), in order to pray for protection for their safe business sailing to China. The rear hall is divided into three areas. The center is status of Matzu. The left is dedicated to the Gods of literature ——Wenchang Wang (文昌大帝), or patrons of examinations for civil service in old days. The right is for the Lord Guan (関聖帝君), the God of war.
Matzu (媽祖/天上聖母) is a Chinese sea goddess. Believers expect that she can protect them through miraculous interventions. According to an old saying, “Matzu madness in the third month, welcome Wangye (王爺) in the fourth, busy with Pudu (普渡) in the seventh” (三月瘋媽祖, 四月迎王爺, 七 月 忙 普 渡 ), which emphasizes the importance of three major events in Taiwan folk religion. As we can tell, Mazuism is popular in Taiwan; her temple festival is a major event in the region, with the largest celebrations around the temples. Walking along the narrow streets, you may find lots of temples built for praying for Matzu. And some of them are even built inside citizen’s house. Matzu is said to have Matzu (媽祖)
been born a mortal named Lin Moniang (林默娘), during the Song dynasty (宋朝) in Meizhou, Fujian (福建湄洲). And she takes charge of China’s South Ocean. There are various legends of Mazu and most of them make people impressed and touched. One of them tells that she died while trying to save her fisherman father and brothers from drowning after their ship was caught in a typhoon. Unable to find her alive, her relatives and other villagers believed that she had been transformed into an immortal and had ascended to heaven. It is not only a glorious hope but is also a way to memorize this great and extraordinary woman. And there is another classical folk story which happened in Qing dynasty. One merchant ship of Quanzhou immigrants almost shipwrecked. The sailors prayed for Matzu of Longshan Temple. Later, they were rescued from the dangerous situation. And people in Quanzhou built a plaque to memorize Matzu with gratitude. Most of these folk stories have been passed on since Qing dynasty. Thus, we can easily tell that during that time, Matzu already became the most widely worshipped deity in Taiwan and remains at the top of the local religious pantheon until today. As for now, Matzu is generally regarded as the most powerful Queen of Heaven. 13
Wenchang Wang（文昌王）, a Taoist deity in Chinese Mythology. His name is also known as Wenchang Dijun （ 文 昌 帝 君 ） . From the existence of his statues in Longshan Temple, we can be even more sure about the tolerance among various religions. Since Wenchang Wang is widely known as the God of Culture and Literature, he has historically been called upon by scholars and writers who need inspiration or help and blessings right before their examinations. When you are walking around the Longshan Temple, in fact, you will hardly ever see students worshiping before Wenchang Wang, instead, their elderly parents do. This kind of action precisely shows the traditional eastern culture of parents’ love and care towards their children and how much people emphasize the grade and academical success. The initial name of Lord Guan (関聖帝君)is Guan Yu. In religious devotion he is reverentially called the "Lord Guan". What’s more, he is portrayed as having a red face. As for people who have read the famous novel Three Kingdoms must know him very well. Even in many media teleplays or movies, he appears with a loyalty image. As one of the best known Chinese historical figures throughout East Asia, Guan Yu was deified as early as Sui dynasty and is still worshipped by many people today in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong,
communities. And he is extremely respected as an epitome of loyalty and righteousness.
In Chinese mythology, Yue Lao (月老) (Literally: "old man under the moon") represents the god of marriage and love. He appears as an old man under the moon in lots of myths. Everyone’s ideal partner is written on the marriage appointment book. While in many teleplays, he is a kind and loving old man who seems to have a magic power. What’s more, he is holding a marriage appointment book and red threads. It is said that everyone has an invisible red thread on his wrist. Yue Lao is the deity who helps you search for whomever is on the other end of the thread. And when you are visiting Longshan Temple, there are many visitors who are possibly young and faithful praying to Yue Lao. Until today, Longshan Temple is famous for its reputation. Therefore, single people all around the world once come to Longshan Temple, praying to Yue Lao is always on the top of their lists.
A True Story of Yue Lao The Taiwanese believe that Yue Lao is the best god of the love. One writer and her friends who come from Japan wen to visite Long Shan Temple last year. After finish praying other gods, they went to see Yue Lao and asked some questions about the relationship, like is there anyone waiting for them for 3 months. Everyone got good answers from Yue Lao and they just went back home with hope. Next month, one friend who went to see Yue Lao on that day got a boyfriend. After a week another friend got a boyfriend too. Astonishingly, the writer got a boyfriend at last! A lot of Taiwanese believe the god, Yue Lao, is definitely a wonderful special god, who always waits for people to come to Long Shan Temple. And we want to remind you that do not forget to thank Yue Lao if you have the great relationship after praying to Yue Lao.
However, while you are walking around there, you may be curious about how to pray for love. What makes you more curious is that you find the surroundings are not familiar with the methods either. We must admit it’s a shame that most young Taiwanese today are gradually losing their tradition including these praying methods. Fortunately, we’ve brought you the most authentic way to pray. Just follow the instructions and find your true love!
The Methods of Praying for Love3 1. Prepare a set of God money and three incense sticks before praying, they are provided to
visitors at the god money stand. 2. A special offering to Yue Lao is needed for those who pray to Yue Lao for the very first
time. The offering, containing 2 pieces of lead money, a red thread, and sugar, is available at the counter. 3. Light up three incense sticks. 4. Stand in front of the incense burner, pray to the sky god: briefly introduce yourself, for
example, your name, age and your address. Pray to the sky god to give blessings on everything. 5. Get your offering at the counter; pray to Guanyin, Yue Lao and the other deities. While
you are praying, you have to introduce yourself briefly to the gods, such as your name, age, address, and the personality of the person you would like to meet. (when you get married, you have to bring a box of engagement cookies to express your gratitude.)
Thanks to the cultural integration and Taiwanese’s tolerant attitude, a number of cultural elements have been preserved well in Longshan Temple. Regardless of whether you are seeking wealth, fertility, health, or marriage, there is a temple chamber with a god to offer you support and guidance. Longshan Temple is among its devotees a spiritual "general hospital" in which every request for assistance must have a response.
Source: The website of Taipei Xia-Hai City God Temple - http://www.tpecitygod.org
Special Religious Activities With some many buddhas, Longshan Temple holds various activities or festivals related to religions as well. At the beginning of the new year, you may see a large crowd of people gathering in front of Longshan Temple’s gate at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. Once the doors are opened, these worshippers will rush inside the hall to be the No.1 person who plunges incense sticks into censers. Just try to imagine how crazy and addicted these believers are. And this tradition has not been limited among people who live in Bangka, yet it also spreads to entire Taiwan. Besides elders, nowadays more and more young people, as well as children, will join this competition as well.
Qiang Tou Xiang（搶頭香）4
Qiang Tou Xiang (搶頭香), which literally means to “compete to burn the first incense,” has been a key annual rite for a long history. Those who succeed are believed to be guaranteed a year of good luck. You may wonder where such a spectacle was originally created? Well, according to some ancient Chinese books, this activity was earliest recorded in Song dynasty（宋朝）; however, after a long period of self-development in Taiwan, this custom has become unique, distinctive and requisite. Many Taiwanese believers or religious groups will organize one by themselves.
Fifteen days after Chinese New Year, Longshan Temple is festooned with rows of colorful lanterns. Crowds of eager visitors’ flock to the temple to enjoy the spectacle and to guess the curious riddles written on the lanterns on display. Naturally the Longshan Temple’s most solemn festival of the year is the birthday of the Bodhisattva Guanyin, which falls on the 19th day of the 2nd lunar month. In the old days offerings of noodles (symbolizing long life), fresh fruit and vegetarian pastries were set out in the Bodhisattva’s honor, and a stage would be set up to provide an operatic performance for the enjoyment of the deity and her worshippers alike.
The Ghost Festival （鬼節/盂蘭盆會） According to the Chinese calendar, the Ghost Festival is normally on the 15th night of July, while it’s on 14th in Taiwan. The Ghost Festival is widely known as Yulan Festival (盂蘭盆 會) in Taiwan. Furthermore, it is a traditional Buddhist and Taoist festival. After reading several folk stories related to the ghost festival, we can basically assume that it is traditionally believed that ghosts haunt the island of Taiwan for the entire seventh lunar month, when the Ghost Festival is held. From superstition standpoint, to safely spend this festival, the first day of the month is marked by opening the gate of a temple, symbolizing the gates of hell. On the twelfth day, lamps on the main altar are lit. Then on the thirteenth day, a procession of lanterns is held. On the fourteenth day, a parade is held for releasing water lanterns. Incense and food are offered to the spirits to deter them from visiting homes and spirit paper money is also burnt as an offering. During the month, people are supposed to avoid surgery, buying cars, swimming, moving a house, marrying, whistling and going out or taking pictures after dark. It is also important that addresses are not revealed to the ghosts.
As you can see, there are both celebrations and fiestas in Longshan Temple. All these activities transfer people’s expectation into real actions and provide a chance for the believers to show their piety. Although what some people do is simply following the herd and going with the tide, what we can’t deny is that Longshan Temple is a necessary part of local people’s life, so as the buddhas and festivals. The traditions have been passed down and that’s exactly why Longshan Temple has become such a unique temple.
Qingshan Temple 青山宮 When I walked into the temple, I heard an interesting conversation between a grandfather and his grandson.
「阿公以前也都來這裡拜拜喔！」(I worshiped in this temple before.)
「阿公，你對這裏一定很熟！」(You must be familiar with this temple.)
「當然，阿公從小在這裡長大。」(Of course. I have lived here since I was little.)
「阿公，你會在廟裡玩捉迷藏嗎？」(Grandpa, did you play hide and seek in the temple?)
「當然不行，我們要尊敬神明！」(Of course not. We have to respect the Gods!) 20
Introduction Bangka Qingshan Temple is located in the middle of Gui Yang Street which we call it 'TAIPEI'S FIRST STREET' (台 北 第 一 街 ), Wan Hua district, Taipei City. King of Qingshan is the main god in this temple. This place is the local religion among that area. Qingshan Temple is recognized as the third rank historical site.
History In 1854, there was a serious flu in the Bangka area. Bangka people moved the King of Qingshan in the Hui-an Qingshan Temple to Bangka and built a small temple people to worship temporarily. After that, because the flu weakened, King of Qingshan became famous among Bangka. Therefore, more and more people worship it. In 1856, the villagers decided to build a new temple in the prosperous area called “Sweet Potato Street’’. In 1859, the building process was finished.
Sweet Potato Street(蕃薯市街): During Qing Dynasty, the han people traded sweet potatoes with aboriginal people in Taiwan. The occasion of trading was called “Sweet Potato Street’’ at that time.
King of Qingshan (靈安尊王/青山王)
His worthy and capable skills in running the city led to his deification as a protector against plague, a god who rewards virtue and a punisher of evil. The temple is dedicated to the King of Qingshan or the “King of the Green Mountain” (a metaphor for someone who led a just/good life) a popular Taoist deity hailing from Quanzhou (泉州) in today's Fujian Province. The Bangka Qingshan Temple has had really a grand significance to both Bangka district and Taipei for a long time. The temple is dedicated to the King of Qingshan or the “King of the Green Mountain” a popular Taoist deity hailing from Quanzhou (泉州) in today's Fujian Province.
Justice Ministry (配祀衙門巡捕審堂體系)
King of Qingshan is in charge of this Justice Ministry. Justice Ministry Virtuous Good Fortune Department ( 福 德 司 ), Punishment of Evil Department ( 罰 惡 司 ), Increase Status Department (增祿司), Quick Report Department (速報司), Inspection Department (監 察司), Longevity Department (長壽司), Reward Virtue Department (獎善司), Yin Yang Department (陰陽司). This ministry is divided into two lines. They have their names emblazoned above the cabinet they reside in. These eight division secretaries represent the various divisions of the bureaucracy of hell.
King of Qingshan Festival 青山王祭 The large-scale King of Qingshan Festival is known as “Great Bangka Sacrificial Ceremony” (艋舺大拜拜), and it is hosted each year from the 20th to 23rd day of the 10th lunar month. In 2010 the Bureau of Cultural Heritage, Ministry of Culture (文化部文化資產 局), put not only raojing (繞境) but also anfang (暗訪) of this festival on the country’s list of Folk Customs and Related Cultural Artifacts of official cultural heritage. The Ministry of the Interior (內政部) figured out the temple’s historical and cultural importance, it declared it a Historical Relic of the Third Rank in 1985.
During this year’s four-day celebration, the entire Wanhua district is full of believers, and there is lots of sound. In the whole festival, for sure, there will be a King of Qingshan 23
night-inspection procession on each of the first two nights, one through southern and one through northern Wanhua. The process is commonly called “night visit.” (anfang) On the third day, it is the festival’s main event, with zhentou (陣頭) or “battle-array” performance troupes from all Wanhua temples, large and small, participating, the “Greeting the King of Qingshan” (迎青山王) raojing or “tour of inspection”. On the 4th day, the King of Qingshan’s birthday, anniversary rites and celebrations of colorful grandeur are staged. It is one of Taipei’s three biggest annual temple fairs and is a crucial annual event for the local community for Bangka people.
King of Qingshan Festival (青山王祭)
King of Qingshan Festival (青山王祭)
Bangka Qingshui Temple (艋舺清水祖師廟)
Before entering the temple, I observed the condition outside the temple for one hour. Most of the believers were the elders. Some were with their family, but some were alone. Although they went into the temple with different emotions, they all gave me a sense of fulfillment after worshiping the god. It really shows how a temple, especially Qingshui Temple gives the comfort to the people. .
Bangka Qingshui Temple 艋舺清水祖師廟
It is located in Wan Hua District, Taiper City. The temple is dedicated to patriarch (清水 祖師), a popular Buddhist monk and folk-hero whose worship was imported to Taiwan by immigrants from Fujian province in China. This temple is recognized as third-rank historical site. The patriarch is the main god of this temple. It is said that when some dangers come, the patriarch’s nose will fall to warn the people. Qingshui Temple shares a history with the immigrants from Fujian Province, who settled in Taipei several centuries ago.
History In 1787, Bangka Quishui Temple started to build. In 1790, the building process is finished. In 1853, because of the Dingxiajiao Conflict, the temple was destroyed. In 1867, Bangka Quishui Temple began to rebuild. In 1997, it was planned to build by time schedule and finished the building.
Dingxiajiao Conflict: During 1800s, the majority of its settlers were from Tong’an (同 安) and Sanyi (三邑) in Quanzhou Prefecture (泉州府). Struggles between the two groups concerning different deities, and dominance of the port area in Bangka, led to major strife, called the Dingxiajiao Conflict (頂下郊拼). At that time, Sanyi people asked Anxi people to burn the half of the temple for them to attack Tong-an people. This was the reason why Bangka Quishui Temple needed to be rebuilt.
When you see images of Master Qingshui, you may wonder why he appears with a 'black face' and even sometimes missing a nose. Moreover, most of Anxi people earned a living for planting tea. The Patriarch is famous for praying for rain. Now, those who plant tea will worship Patriarch. Over the centuries Qingshui has earned the nicknames “Black Faced Ancestor” (烏 面祖師公) which are some interesting stories of his exploits. In Taiwan, he is worshiped by police, military, and businesses forces as their guardian. He is an all-knowing, all-powerful deity. You can pray to him for physical health, peace and safety too. What’s more, you can also success in examinations, business or career a happy family life. He is considered a deity across Taoists and Buddhists, making him one of the most popular deities in Taiwan.
The God of Land(福德正神) is in charge of earth. It keeps the security of the village and the harvest of crops. Farmers usually worship the God of Land.
The God of Land (福德正神)
How to Worship For the foreigners, the most important and also the most complicated thing is mainly about how to pray. Although temples in Taiwan were very complicated, you can visit the gorgeous temple right way after reading this. 1. Your Long Shang Temple’s first trip will begin from Long Men (龍門) on your right side to Hu Men (虎門) on your left side. In Taiwan, Long (龍門) means the dragon as well as indicating luck. On the other hand, Hu (虎) means the tiger, which represents ominous. Therefore, it shows that the dragon will give you luck when you are in worship and the tiger will receive your ominous in the temple, which can make you more fortune. It is why you have to walk into the temple from the right to the left. 2. First, you can buy the joss stick, which is sold beside the Long Men (10 TWD). After lighting the joss stick, you can go to the main hall, which is located in the center of Long Shan Temple. When you pray to a god, you have to put up a joss over your head with deep bow 3 times. If you want to make a vow to a god, you should tell your name, address and your birthdate. Then you should put the joss into the golden censer. 3. After visiting the main hall, you can visit the other hall where you can worship other gods from your right side to left side. Be careful that you can’t forget to tell your name, address and your birthdate to a god.
* The list of the building in order: 1. Guan Yin Xiang Lu (觀音香爐) 2. Tien Gong Xiang Lu (天宮香爐) 3. Wen Chang Xiang Lu (文昌香爐) 4. Shui Shen Xiang Lu (水仙香爐) 5. Ma Zu Xiang Lu (媽祖香爐) 6. Zhu Sheng Xiang Lu (注生香爐) 7. Guan Di Xiang Lu (關帝香爐)
The special red-shell wood in Taiwan is “poe” (擲笅). There are the pieces of wood shaped like red-shell, which are used for the tool of asking if the thing goes well not. It is called Zhi Jiao (擲笅) in Taiwan ( Poe in English).
History of Poe (擲筊) The first Poe, made by a dried shell of the turtle, was invented in ancient China which was used for fortune telling. To hit the Poe and see the scar and hole spread which showed your fortune in your future. Also, the first ancient literature in China was found on their shell of the turtle. Therefore, the first Poe made by the shell of a turtle was seen as a sacred thing. Next, they started to use the snail shell instead of using the dried shell of a turtle which was used for as a fortune telling same as a fortune telling with coins in modern times. People believed in a god bless that believed to dwell within a snail shell; however, it was found that a snail shell was fragile. Therefore, people tried to use the Poe made by woods instead of using snail shells. Now, Poe is the representative lucky charm in Taiwan.
* How to use the Poe to speak to the God 1. Firstly, you take the Poe with both hands and say your name, address, and birthdate in your heart. Before you drop it, you have to say what you want to ask or to make a vow in your heart 2. The god will give you the answer.
Xiao Bei (笑杯)
Sheng Bei (聖杯)
Xiao Bei (笑杯) means “laughing”. You have to use other words or other ways to ask something to the god. Shen Bei (聖杯) means “yes”. The god answer “yes” means your wish will come true.
Yin Bei (陰杯)
This is the picture of Yin Bei (陰杯) means “no”. The god answer “no”. If you are in telling fortune, you can drop it again.
Fortune telling Also, it has the paper fortune telling in Long Shan Temple. However, it is only provided in Chinese, so if you can’t understand Chinese, you can go to the service counter to translate to English. 1. Say your name, address to god. 2. Ask the question, and throw the Poe. If it is Sheng Bei, you can pick the stick in the box beside the god. If not, you can throw the Poe again until the Sheng Bei comes. 3. The stick you pick has the number on the bottom of the stick. Then you can go to the shelf with each number of the lucky paper. You can have the same number that you pick.
Public Traffic Information Longshan Temple
Longshan Temple Station
No. 234, 265
Bangka Qingshui Temple
Conclusion Congrtulations! Hoping that after this brilliant journey you have successfully acquried useful information of Bangka and the three well-known temples. Moreover, you also gain some knowledege of Taiwansese religious culture through our words. Whether you’ve truly stepped into these temples or not, what we expect you to realize is that temples are not only spiritual sustenance of local people’s life and work, but also heritages which is a testimony to Taiwanese unique past and help define our cultural identity. Have you notice that when walking into the temple, you will happen to catch a sight of people truthfully pray and kneel on the ground? Probably you won’t see that scene in your country. What you can see in the temples in Taiwan is that there are a huge variety of gods being placed at the same spot and being worshipped by a number of sincere believers at the same time. These buddhas they all have their own special, distinct ability and function, for example, they can bless academic, health, relationship, fortune and so on. We are sure you have an accurate understanding of them after reading the previous chapters. People around here are coming with purposes and desperate need. Asking Taiwanese why they go to pray (Bai-Bai), they will say: “The only reason for us to pray is not our religions, but is just how much we believe in these gods.” There seems to be an invesible power to force, instruct and guide people, so that they’d rather believing in god’s existence than feeling lost. The gods have been deeply rooted in Taiwanese people’s heart Although you may have a different background, for example, eating habits or living habits, but when you come to Taiwan, you must feel very curious and fresh about Taiwanese culture. Generally speaking, foreigners who visit Taiwan for the first time don’t care about the history what indicates why Taiwanese people extremely like fried foods, why Taiwanese are very friendly to foreigners, why Taiwan has a lot of cuisines from many different countries and why Taiwanese temples are colorful, gorgeous and good-fortune. There is a deep culture which people hardly get a chance to know than knowing a surface culture. When you have questions in your head, you can seek the answer from the history. When the temples were firstly built, they mean a spiritual ballast for the people migrated or exiled from mainland China. After surviving from and reconstructing after several wars and disasters, local people emphasize them more than ever. They noy only the root of their hometown, but also the source of their temperament and virtues. Through knowing the temple culture, you can know two things: one is that Taiwanese people cherish the connection between people and the gods; second is that Taiwanese people 33
cherish the culture of believing in the gods and praying with their pure hearts. People in Taiwan believe in the gods and they pray for their wishes, also they try to communicate with the god using the Poe. After praying, they will come back and thank the gods. The gods in Taiwan are close in each people, and people pray with a courteous manner. Surely, the gods will exist for people to believe in. The culture of the temples makes people’s life happier and people’s heart warmer. The temples in Taiwan are different which colored by bright red, and sparkling gold that makes Taiwan lively. The temples are recommended for foreigners who are interested in the temples, who wants to see the architecture of the temples, who wants to feel atmosphere of the temples, who wants to know the history of Taiwan and who wants to experience the deep culture of Taiwan. “To know the temple is to know the culture.” The temples always welcome your visiting!
References Books 1. 迎神在臺北 : 臺北迎城隍.艋舺迎青山王.臺北靈安社陣頭 - 林美容,辜神徹 2. 圖說艋舺龍山寺 - 徐逸鴻 3.艋舺戀花恰恰恰 - 楊麗玲 4.典藏艋舺歲月 - 張蒼松 5. 俎豆同榮：紀頂下郊拚的先人們 - 王湘琦 6. 艋舺千帆再起 : 文化故鄉古今時空漫步 - 台北艋舺扶輪社編 7.Urban transformation and adaptation in Bangka, Taipei: Marginalization of a historical core - http://pqdd.sinica.edu.tw/cgi-bin2/Libo.cgi?
Magazine 8.艋舺龍山寺 - http://primo.lib.ntu.edu.tw/primo_library/libweb/action/search.do?vl%28freeText0%29=% E8%89%8B%E8%88%BA&SUBMIT=&vl%281UI0%29=contains&tab=default_tab&vid= NTU&srt=rank&mode=Basic&vl%2856823557UI0%29=any&dum=true&indx=1&tb=t&fn =search
Websites 9. 艋舺青山宮(TripAdvisor) - https://www.travel.taipei/zh-tw/attraction/details/74 10. 龍山寺(Trip advisor)- https://www.travel.taipei/zh-tw/attraction/details/68 11. 認識艋舺 - http://active.tlps.tp.edu.tw/talist/mg.html 12. Bangka Qing Shui Yan Zu Shi Miao - https://www.goteamjosh.com/blog/qingzushi 13. Bangka- https://www.goteamjosh.com/blog/bangka 35
14. Bangka old town and yesterdayhttp://focustaiwan.tw/topic/eng_forum/17/201601050001.aspx 15. Step Inside Taiwanâ€™s Famous Longshan Temple - https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/longshan-temple-180952606/ 16. Buddhist Worship - Temples and Symbols - http://www.markedbyteachers.com/gcse/religious-studies-philosophy-and-ethics/buddhistworship-temples-and-symbols.html