Friday, October 1, 2010

Local Color: The Temples of Taoyuan City

(Click on photos to enlarge.)

 We live in a “small” city in Taiwan of about 380,000 people. Taoyuan City is located about 30 kilometers from Taipei the capitol of Taiwan in Northern Taiwan.  The city is home to industry and small businesses alike.  In my neighborhood, there are three hairdressers, a number of restaurants, a small store, two vegetable markets, two scooter dealers, a bike shop and butcher.  These small businesses are run by the neighbors out of their homes.  One of the other features of Taoyuan City are the temples.  There are many of them in the city, today I want to talk about the temples.

Detail at a downtown temple

There are many temples throughout the city.  People come to them to worship neighborhood gods.  These are the traditional buildings you think of when you think of Chinese Architecture.  At the library in Riverside, California they have erected a gazebo that is based on this type of architecture.  The temples are brightly colored and usually feature an incinerator for burning "hell money" as a part of the ancestor worship.  There is also a huge urn for burning incense.

Incense urn (foreground) at incinerator

The little temple at right is about a half block from my house.  Other temples such as the one pictured below are very large.  The Temple below is outside of the city on a mountain road, it is surrounded by beautiful scenery and solitude.  It's called the "Temple of the Martyr," and features this sculpure of the Twelve Dragons 

The Twelve Dragons
Much of the life that people live here is built around the traditional Taiwanese religion, represented by these temples.  There are many festivals and parades that take place because of religious beliefs and temple tradition.  Recently, the people celebrated the Ghost Festival.  I recently posted an article on The Ghost Festival (Taiwanese Traditions:  Ghost day) or you can see a short glimpse of the Ghost Festival temple parade at (Ghost Festival Parade).  Pictured below are some vehicles that participate in the parades.


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