Fri, Sep 21, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Tin exhibition tells story of Hakka mining culture

JUST FOR LUCK:Another exhibition, of Taoist talismans, is to open in Yunlin County tomorrow, and visitors are invited to bring their own safety talismans of pouches

By Peng Chien-li, Huang Shu-li and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Lee Han-peng, curator of an exhibition of Taoist talismans and pouches, on Wednesday holds a talisman and a pouch at the Yunlin Memory Cool shop in Yunlin County’s Huwei Township.

Photo: Huang Shu-li, Taipei Times

The Taiwan Hakka Museum in Miaoli County’s Tongluo Township (銅鑼) is hosting an exhibition centered around Malaysian tin.

The year-long display, which opened on Sunday, is hosted by the Hakka Affairs Council to highlight how Hakka migrants were involved in mining in Malaysia.

The museum collaborated on the exhibition with Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman in Malaysia and National Kaohsiung Normal University’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Taiwan Hakka Cultural Development Center director Ho Chin-liang (何金樑) said.

The exhibition focuses on the development of Malaysia’s tin industry, and how it led to Hakka migrants moving to Malaysia in the late 18th century, he said.

Hakka from Huizhou and Jiayingzhou, China, migrated to the Nanyang (南洋) region specifically because of its burgeoning tin trade and mining sector, the museum said.

Nanyang is the Chinese term for Southeast Asia and India.

Some of the Hakka who mined for tin became rich and played a dominant role in the development of cities on the Malaysian peninsula, the museum said.

The Hakka in the region formed ethnicity-based self-help groups to assist each other, a departure from the agricultural or deity-based organizations that Taiwanese Hakka have adopted.

The exhibition includes products from the Kinta Tin Mining Museum in Malaysia, as well as artifacts, documents and pictures from Hakka organizations in the area, the museum said, adding that it is to run through Sept. 14 next year.

In Yunlin County, an exhibition of Taoist talismans and pouches from different temples across Taiwan opens tomorrow and is to run through Oct. 21 at the Yunlin Memory Cool shop in Huwei Township (虎尾).

Curator Lee Han-peng (李漢鵬) on Wednesday said that he was always interested in the talismans and pouches handed out by temples, so he started collecting them.

For example, large talismans, or shenma (神媽), are not meant to be carried around, Lee said, adding that large talismans are, “in essence, a splinter of a deity,” handed out by temple staff so that followers can worship at home, he said.

They are meant for devout believers who cannot afford to keep a physical representation of a deity in their homes, he said, adding that usually temple staff will carve the prime deity that the temple worships onto wood, using it to make rubbings on yellow or red paper.

As wood can be damaged, every temple has variations of the same talisman, with some no longer in circulation or very rare.

However, talismans for safety are meant to be carried around, Lee said, adding that they are sometimes burned, so that their ash can be kept in a pouch, which is easier to carry.

Temples have kept up with the times, so talismans are sometimes made from plastic or are made to look cute, Lee added.

It is the first exhibition of talismans in the county, Yunlin Memory Cool shop owner Tseng Pei-ting (曾沛庭) said.

Visitors are welcome to bring their own safety talismans or pouches to share, Tseng said.

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