Tainan, the original capital of Taiwan when it was first settled by the Han Chinese, has more temples than any other city in the country and has developed a rich temple culture. Having grown up living next to a temple, Hsieh Chi-feng was always mesmerized by the artistry that goes into making deity statues. A decade ago he started keeping detailed records of all the different styles and designs of the statues he encounters. Some of the more than 100 such statues recorded date as far back as the Ming Dynasty. After spending two years compiling his data, Hsieh has finally released a new book in Chinese, titled “An illustrated history of Taiwan’s deities.” The book is a useful reference tool for people interested in the religions of Taiwan, and it also provides a diagram explaining the origins and connections between the different deities, bringing humanity a little closer to religious belief.
Hsieh grew up in the old “five ports area” of Greater Tainan’s Central West District. His family’s house was surrounded by temples, so he constantly heard gongs, drums and firecrackers as a child, which fueled his curiosity for temples and religions. Although he majored in engineering at university, Hsieh has always enjoyed recording anything to do with temples. In 1988, when the Chihkan Culture and History Workshop opened along Greater Tainan’s Shennong St, it awakened a passion for local culture inside of Hsieh. Conducting fieldwork, Hsieh began documenting the history of cultural relics at temples and eventually started writing his own blog. Pragmatic, reliable and filled with an abundance of information, the blog has attracted over a million visits.
A decade ago, Hsieh started trying to mimic the writing style of Taiwanese academic Hsu Ping-ting’s “Little gods,” a book that uses vernacular stories to tell anecdotes about deities. Hsieh has managed to make an even more detailed and accurate record of individual deity statues.
Photo: Huang Wen-huang, Liberty Times
Worshippers typically place embroidered holy garments on the statues out of respect, which Hsieh says makes it hard to photograph how the statue actually looks underneath. It is regrettable that the average person is not allowed to the see the entirety of these works because the original artisans who made the statues were very meticulous about many of the details found on them, Hsieh says. Whenever a statue is being renovated or having its clothes changed, Hsieh always tries to procure a picture in order to capture those rawest aspects of each individual statue.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)
1. garment n.
衣服；服裝 (yi1 fu2; fu2 zhuang1)
例: Over a 1,000 people died in a garment-factory accident in Bangladesh last year.
2. renovate v.
整修；更新 (zheng3 xiu1; geng1 xin1)
例: The building is currently being renovated and will reopen
in the winter.
3. procure v.
取得；獲得 (qu3 de2; huo4 de2)
例: Were you able to procure those items
you bid on at the auction?
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Let’s go for a spin in my new set of wheels (5/5)
坐我的新車去兜風吧（五） A: Can you hear a strange noise? B: Now you mention it, I can hear a faint whirring sound. Also, there’s a slight whiff of burnt rubber. A: Uh-oh! I’d better pull over and take a look... OK, sit tight. I’ll pop the hood and take a look at the engine. B: What’s the prognosis? A: I think the fan belt has worn out and caused the engine to overheat. I’d better call a mechanic... A: 你有聽到一種奇怪的噪音嗎？ B: 既然你說了，我確實有聽到微弱的低沉呼呼聲。另外，我還聞到一點點燒焦的橡膠味。 A: 哦哦！我最好停車檢查一下……。好，你坐穩，我要把引擎蓋打開，看看引擎有沒有問題。 B: 你推斷的病情是什麼？ A: 我想應該是風扇的皮帶破損了，導致引擎過熱。我最好打個電話給維修人員……。 （Edward Jones, Taipei Times／台北時報章厚明譯） English 英文: Chinese 中文:
Let’s dine out tonight (3/5) 今晚我們去餐廳吃飯吧（三） A: Hmm. . . I can’t decide what to order. I’m hesitating between a lamb rogan josh or a beef vindaloo. B: Well, let’s order both and share the dishes. We can also order the tandoori king prawns that I was just eyeing up. A: The prawn dish will perfectly complement the bottle of Australian Chardonnay that I’ve brought along. It’s a great wine, with notes of peaches and lemongrass. B: Cool! Let’s also order some butter naan bread and pilau rice for two. A: 嗯……我無法決定要點哪一道菜。我正在猶豫要點喀什米爾羊肉咖哩，還是辛辣香料牛肉咖哩。 B: 啊，那我們兩個都點，然後分著吃吧。我們還可以點一份坦都里香料烤明蝦，我剛剛一直在看這道菜。 A: 這道明蝦應該能完美搭配我帶來的這瓶澳洲夏多內白葡萄酒。這瓶酒真的很棒哦，帶有桃子和檸檬草的香氣。 B: 酷！那我們也點一些奶油烤餅，和兩人份的香料米飯吧。 （Edward Jones, Taipei Times／台北時報章厚明譯） WARNING: Excessive consumption of alcohol can damage