Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Temples Were Cool Too

So, in Taiwan, there is a smorgasbord of religions. Popular are Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Christianity. We weren't there long enough to get a sense of whether people actively believe, or whether, like Japan, it's more of a superstitious thing... you know, go to the temple on New Year's Day and pray for good luck for the following year.

The temples (for the first three religions, that is!) also vary. As far as I know, we only saw Taoist temples, which are the most colourful of the three. They are also fascinating because so many things happen at them. In Japan, you mostly see people lighting incense, clapping their hands, and bowing and praying. In Taiwan, people also go to temples to try to learn about their futures. For instance, I watched about three people using oracle blocks. They would take two blocks and drop them on the floor. Apparently, if one block lands convex side up, and the other flat side up, the answer to their question is positive. If both are convex side up, the answer is negative. If both land flat side up, the answer is unclear... try again!

I also saw people use oracles. This has something to do with bamboo strips that have numbers on them. Don't really get it, but they seemed to use them together with the oracle blocks. The other interesting practice we witnessed was the burning of "ghost money." People take paper that represents money and toss it into large furnaces. It's meant to keep their ancestors happy.

Anyway, hope you didn't mind my ramble. I like to educate as well as entertain! And I know many of you faithful readers are interested in Asian culture, so you know, I aim to please! ;p

I so love this picture. It just really captures the gaudy colours. Love it, love it. Isn't Jeff a whiz?

And the gargoyles are cool too. Each one has a ball in its mouth that you can move around (if you stick your finger in), but you can't remove.

And this is inside the temple. You can see the big incense pot in the middle of the room.

And I just like this picture. There's actually a funny story behind these pictures. We saw more grandiose temples than this one (all the pics are from the same one) but... One morning, Jeff got the photog itch. So he went for a walk near Rita's home. He came across this temple. He was soon noticed by a man who seemed rather impressed by Jeff's equipment (yes, he's acquired quite a number of lenses...) The man excitedly invited Jeff into the temple and motioned to basically just explore anywhere he wished. That's why Jeff was able to get all the cool shots and close-ups. After some time, the man approached him with a bottle of water and a bottle of Taiwan beer! And he got a woman to ask Jeff to please send some copies of the pictures. Not a bad deal!


(Jeff here. Just thought you need to see this picture too. It gives a good feeling for the number of buildings that these temple sites have. This is standing on the balcony of one of the main buildings of one of the bigger temples we went to).

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jeff:

very nice pics...
..did you get copies to him ?

.........Dad

epps_nihon_go said...

thanks Dad. the pictures are on their way.

Karen & Josh said...

Hey, we read to be both educated and entertained. We always enjoy keeping up on your adventures!