In an unusual sight for a temple, Changhua City’s Nanyao Temple (南瑤宮) features textured murals showing two Republic of China (ROC) national flags. The murals on the archway of the temple’s main entrance not only serve as decoration, but also tell a story of the temple’s past.
When Taiwan was liberated from Japanese rule after World War II, the temple offered its grounds for temporary lodging to the Nationalist soldiers stationed in Taiwan, Changhua Mayor Chiu Chien-fu (邱建富) said.
More than 100 of soldiers lived in the temple compound and what was planned to be a temporary shelter continued to be their base for more than three or four decades. It was during this time that some of the garrisoned soldiers drew flags on the walls, he said.
The temple committee decided to keep the flags after the troops were re-stationed elsewhere, Chiu said, adding that the national flag is rarely seen in temples in Taiwan.
A local resident surnamed Shih (石) said that when he was young, he played around the temple. Before the soldiers moved in, he had not seen any flags on the walls. It was only after the soldiers were stationed there that the drawings appeared, he said.
“I stopped going near the temple after the soldiers were stationed there, because the soldiers and guns were frightening,” Shih said, adding that it was possible the soldiers had drawn the flags on the temple walls to express their patriotism.
A visiting Matsu devotee surnamed Lai (賴) said he had never seen the national flag painted on the walls of a temple.
The depictions of the flags in the Nanyao Temple have been made to look more realistic by using cement to add a sense of depth, Lai said.