It has been a few months now that I’ve been back from a long weekend trip to Taipei with my visiting parents, but I’ve only recently found time to sort through the pictures and write about our experience. So please excuse my delay and enjoy the pictures form Taipei.
On our first day, we walked through the Bopiliao Old Street, and visited the famous temples of Longshan, Quingshui (all of which I had been to before) and for the first time visited the Qingshan Temple. The temple is just a few minutes north from the Longshan temple: No. 218, Sec. 2, Guiyang St., Wanhua District.
This temple is built in 1854 and home to the god King Qingshan. According to legend, fishermen from Hui-an in mainland China brought the god’s image to Taiwan; when they carried it past Old Street they suddenly found themselves brought to a halt; the god refused to move any further. Throwing the oracle blocks to find out what the matter was, the god’s devotees discovered that he wanted to stay there, where they later built the temple.
We arrived in the late afternoon, so the sky was already getting darker and the lampions were lit up – it was a beautiful sight.
Apart from the three of us no one else was visiting the temple, so we had it to ourselves and could walk slowly through the three courtyards and climb up the steps to the halls on the second and third floors.
I always like how the people in Taipei donate food and sweets to the gods – there is always a very interesting selection of gifts and donations, here are some fruits and candies prepared for the gods.
Also, what always fascinates me at temples in Taiwan, are the decorated roofs with complex arrangements of the ceramic human and animal figures. This is called chien nien (cut and glue), as it describes the basic process of making the colorful figures. In the past they would have been made out of broken ceramic and porcelain bowls (a great way to recycle) but nowadays cement and stainless steel wire is most commonly used.
Chien nien are usually set along the main swallow-tailed ridge at the peak of temple roofs and on the two so-called hanging ridges that extend down the front of the roof at right angles to the peak. In most of Taiwan’s temples, there is usually a pagoda, pearl, or the three gods of happiness, wealth and longevity at the top-center of the roof. These figures are often flanked by a dragon on both sides, as well as flowers and phoenixes.
The ends of the hanging ridges nearest the front of the temple roof often show quite ornate scenes of chien nien, including mythological figures, battles from popular folk tales, and scenes from well-known legends.
The Qingshan Temple was built over a century ago, but has received generous amounts of repaints over the last decades – it actually looked like it had recently been painted, as all the colours were bright and strong. The statues were also beautifully decorated when we visited – I believe that’s because a special festival was due to happen or just happened. As there was no one at the temple that we could ask, we never found out.