Creative Song-Jiang Jhen Battle Array in Neimen — 2012高雄內門宋江陣

Posted by on Mar 5, 2012 in blog, Taiwan, Temple Culture | No Comments
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Zhong Hua Medical College competes in Creative Song-Jiang Jhen Contest, College Cup in Neimen, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
Zhong Hua Medical College Creative Song-Jiang Jhen Contest Performer

 

The 2012 Creative Song-Jiang Jhen Battle Array Contest is going on now (March 3,4 and 10) at the Zi Zhu Si (Black Bamboo Monastery) in Neimen, Kaohsiung, Taiwan — 2012高雄內門宋江陣在紫竹寺

Zhong Hua Medical College competes in Creative Song-Jiang Jhen Contest, College Cup in Neimen, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
Zhong Hua Medical College competes in Creative Song-Jiang Jhen Contest, College Cup in Neimen, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan

 2012 Creative Song-Jiang Jhen Battle Array Contest

高雄內門宋江陣在紫竹寺

Creative Song-Jiang Jhen Contest, College Cup in Neimen, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
Creative Song-Jiang Jhen Contest, College Cup in Neimen, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan

 

Origins of the Song Jiang Battle Array

Creative Song-Jiang Jhen Contest, College Cup in Neimen, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
Creative Song-Jiang Jhen Contest, College Cup in Neimen, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan

 

In the lawless days of Qing Dynasty Taiwan villages and clans formed small militia groups to guard themselves from bandit groups and robbers. The self-trained groups were naturally made up of from local farmers wielding farming implements-cum-weapons. Enter the Japanese Era and these groups were no longer needed so much for law and order and rather the troupes were often routed to rebel against the sometimes stifling and exploitative colonial rule. Finally, the groups became religious-based performance groups.

Xun Hsian Temple Song Jiang Battle Array at Creative Song-Jiang Jhen Contest, College Cup in Neimen, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
Master He, Xun Hsian Temple Song Jiang Battle Array at Creative Song-Jiang Jhen Contest, College Cup in Neimen, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan

 

The ‘Song Jiang’ in Song Jiang Battle Array comes from the famous character Song jiang (宋江) and his 36 outlaws in the classic ‘The Water Margin (水滸傳).’

Young Spectator watches Creative Song-Jiang zhen Contest, College Cup in Neimen, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
Young Spectator watches Creative Song-Jiang zhen Contest, College Cup in Neimen, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan

 

Song Jiang Battle Array Contests are popular with both young and old.

Zhong Hua Medical College competes in Creative Song-Jiang Jhen Contest, College Cup in Neimen, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
Young woman holding a ‘ba’ before competition . Zhong Hua Medical College competes in Creative Song-Jiang Jhen Contest, College Cup in Neimen, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan

 

Many of the weapons held by Song Jiang members are traditional farming tools, like the wooden ‘ba’ (耙, 月牙鏟 because it is shaped like a crescent moon or harrow) usually painted auspicious red.

man at 內門紫竹寺
Man at 內門紫竹寺(zi zhu si) Monastery

 

A traditional temple pilgrimage (進香) was taking place at the same time as the competition at the Zi Zhu Temple (紫竹寺). This man was helping pilgrims pass their gods over an incense burner in a traditional purification ritual. Written on his cap the name of a Song Jiang troupe that he (probably) belongs to.

Zhong Hua Medical College competes in Creative Song-Jiang Jhen Contest, College Cup in Neimen, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
Zhong Hua Medical College competes in Creative Song-Jiang Jhen Contest, College Cup in Neimen, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan

 

Most Song Jiang troupes pray to Tian Fu Yuan Shuai (田府元帥), Tian Du Yuan Shuai  (田都元帥 patron god of actors and musicians) or Lord Song Jiang (宋江爺). These are all most likely the same god with different names. Here the troupe raises their weapons in a ceremonial salute to Lord Song Jiang.

Long Hua College Competes in the Creative Song-Jiang Jhen Contest, College Cup in Neimen, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
Long Hua College Competes in the Creative Song-Jiang Jhen Contest, College Cup in Neimen, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan

 

Soong Jiang troupes range from ten to 107 members that perform martial arts at festivals, parades or competitions.

Crowds of spectators watch at front and back of stage as Long Hua College Competes in the Creative Song-Jiang Jhen Contest, College Cup in Neimen, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
Crowds of spectators watch at front and back of stage as Long Hua College Competes in the Creative Song-Jiang Jhen Contest, College Cup in Neimen, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan

 

Presently the zhentou are undergoing yet another transformation. With the modernization of Taiwanese society spectators are looking for a more entertaining form of this tradition and it comes in the form of the Creative Song-Jiang Jhen Battle Array College Cup in Neimen. Judging by the numbers of people in attendance, it is well received.

Young Song Jiang Zhen member with sword. Creative Song-Jiang Jhen Contest, College Cup in Neimen, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
Young Song Jiang Zhen member with sword. Creative Song-Jiang Jhen Contest, College Cup in Neimen, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan

 

Song Jiang battle arrays are still of a very martial nature.

Zhong Hua Medical College competes in Creative Song-Jiang Jhen Contest, College Cup in Neimen, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
Zhong Hua Medical College competes in Creative Song-Jiang Jhen Contest, College Cup in Neimen, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan

 

Rattan shields (藤牌), tridents (三叉), falchions (躂刀), long wooden stakes (齊眉棍), and harrow all pictured here are common Song Jiang jhen weapons.

Xun Hsian Temple Song Jiang Battle Array at Creative Song-Jiang Jhen Contest, College Cup in Neimen, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
Xun Hsian Temple Song Jiang Battle Array at Creative Song-Jiang Jhen Contest, College Cup in Neimen, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan

 

Performer with a large Guan Gong Sword (大關刀) with bamboo forest backdrop.

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