Food for Thought: Taiwan’s Temple Culture as Inspiration

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On the last day of 2016, I captured a cascade of sunshine falling on the rooftops of Zushi Temple (祖師廟) in Sanxia and made that perfect moment an eternity.

Diversity is the first word that comes to my mind when speaking of Taiwan’s temple culture. Someone once described to me that a lot of Taiwanese temples are comparable to shopping malls where deities of different religion and sect coexist to satisfy devotees from all walks of life.

Today’s visit to Zushi Temple reminded me of what one of my mentors once told me: Taiwan’s rich temple culture, though overlooked, could be an important source of inspiration for any local artist who calls Formosa their home. This food for thought, planted in 2013, is gradually taking root within me.

What are the elements from these places of worship that would allow me to develop into a body of creative work that kindles the public’s interest in Taiwan’s temple culture: its distinguished rooftops of glazed tiles? Its deeply-carved stone columns of mythical creatures and figures? The power of different deities that are being worshipped on the altar? Pungent smell of the incense ? Or that feeling of being blessed shared by every visitor who steps into the sanctuary?

Stay curious and foolish for the year to come.

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