Sat, Oct 22, 2016 - Page 4 News List

Temple harks back to uprising

REWRITING HISTORY:The discovery of an Yimin temple pushed back the earliest known Hakka presence in Sansia District from 1912 to around 1895, an official said

By Chang An-chiao and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Department of Hakka Affairs Director Lai Chin-ho, fifth left, poses for a photograph with academics beside a Hakka Yimin temple recently discovered in New Taipei City’s Sansia District.

Photo courtesy of Chen Chung-yu

An Yimin temple recently discovered in New Taipei City’s Sansia District (三峽) could be related to an uprising against the Japanese colonial government in 1895, the city’s Department of Hakka Affairs said.

The temple is on a small mountain path on Yuanshan (鳶山) and, according to research conducted by Jianguo Elementary School teacher Chen Chung-yu (陳仲宇) in Taoyuan, it is the only Yimin (“righteous people,” 義民) temple in the district.

Sansia has traditionally been considered a Minnan region, while Yimin temples belong to Hakka belief, Chen said.

The Yimin belief is thought to stem from deified Hakka warriors who died putting down rebellions in Taiwan for the Qing Empire or during a rebellion against Japan following the ceding of Taiwan under the Treaty of Shimonoseki. Although Yimin belief is unique in the deification of Hakka fighters, it has been conferred upon Hakka, Minnan and Aborigines by the Qing Dynasty.

Chen said the architectural style of the temple is decidedly late Qing, and the couplets on the temple, “Our uprising heralds the new age, but the people reminisce the lands of old,” imply that its construction came on the verge of political change.

The temple is close to the site of the Victory of Fenshuilun (分水崙), where Japanese troops were ambushed by primarily Hakka fighters, Chen said, adding that it could mean the temple commemorated people who died in the battle.

The battle was part of the Japanese takeover of Taiwan in 1895, when Japanese troops put down a rebellion by the Republic of Formosa established by the gentry after the First Sino-Japanese War to protest the ceding of Taiwan.

Chen said that the temple is considered a bao zhong Yimin temple (褒忠義民廟), a specific type of temple reserved for those of Hakka heritage, but the owner of the plot of land on which the structure stands said that the temple was built in 1910 by Fukienese.

Department of Hakka Affairs Director Lai Chin-ho (賴金河), academics studying Yimin belief and local history and culture enthusiasts visited the temple, hoping to find more information.

Prior to the discovery of the temple, the earliest known Hakka presence in the district was between 1912 and 1926 when they first moved into today’s Wuliao (五寮) and Jinmin (金敏) townships to cultivate tea, Lai said.

However, the discovery of the temple suggests it is possible that there were Hakka in Sansia during the early Japanese colonial era when anti-Japan rebellions were rife, Lai said, adding that this was a significant discovery for Hakka history in the district.

If research confirms Chen’s theory and the landowner agrees to subsequent development, the department would ask for funding from the central government to turn the area into a tourist site, Lai said.

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