Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Qingshan Wang Festival I

We saw Dang Ki! In Taipei! Dang Ki (in Taiwanese), or Ji-tong in Chinese, are young men or women who offer themselves up for spiritual possession and then beat themselves with painful implements (pronged clubs, spiked mallets and balls, whips and long needles, to name a few) while their bodies are in the deity's control rather than their own. The blood shed - there is always blood, usually from the back or forehead - is used to write talismans and charms.

It happened today (November 19th) in Taipei, at Sanqing Gong between Guilin Street and Huanhe Road, between 3 and 4pm.

I do have photos and a video, but had to take them on a friend's camera (unfortunately the video has no sound) so they will be posted later.

This is all related to the birthday of Qingshan Wang, and the festivities that take place the day after. More photos and information below.

So I've spent yesterday evening and this afternoon in Wanhua, enjoying the Qingshan Wang birthday festivities. For those who don't know, Qingshan Gong is one of two temples at either end of the famous section of Guiyang Street, north of Longshan Temple and southwest of Ximen. Qingshan Wang - or Lord of the Green Mountain - was a guy named Zhang Gun from the Three Kingdoms era sent to Fujian. Due to his wise, benevolent rule, the locals in Fujian worshipped him as a deity who protected from epidemics and brought peace.

He is called Lord of the Green Mountain because, a thousand years later, an official named Cui brought his likeness to the top of Qingshan, or Green Mountain, as per a verse found on the back of a tablet.

A statue of him was brought to Taiwan when Fujianese settlers moved there, and it is said to have ended up on Guiyang Street because, while carrying it through town, it became too heavy to move in one spot, marking the place where he would like his temple to be built.

His birthday is on the 21st day of the 10th lunar month (this year's November 18th), though the best party in Wanhua is the day after, starting at noon and going until midnight.

Other than the Dang Ki - that is really quite rare, especially in northern Taiwan (I hear it happens a lot more often in the south) it was a noisy street festival such as can be seen at all times of year, celebrating any number of Daoist deities. They began at Qingshan Temple at 5pm (the best photos come from the pre-processional line-up, loop around Wanhua, head through the Guangzhou Street Night Market, stop at Longshan Temple and then continue through the small streets.

One other interesting note was that they did not have typical ba jia jiang. These performed similar duties to ba jia jiang but were made up quite differently. Anyone with any information on this is encouraged to comment; I'd like to know why.

They had red guys...

...and green guys...both of whom reminded me of Thousand Mile Eyes and Ears that Follow the Wind (Matsu's companions), but then there was this fellow:

I haven't seen him before.

There was also a Wealth Beckoning Child - at least I believe this is what he is portraying. I haven't seen one before. Around him were palanquins of the temple's sponsors (you can ride in a sedan chair if you contribute $100,000 NT or more to Qingshan Gong. A few older ladies - probably the wealthiest women in Wanhua - were doing just that.

We also took some great photos of the masks of the largest costumes:

...and of course a generally good time was had by all.

The next Qingshan Wang birthday processional will be held on December 7th, 2009 at 5pm, with the biggest festival taking place on December 8th in the afternoon.

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