On September 19th (this year’s moon festival) Xigang’s newly built Baotian Gong was opened. I spent the day photographing the festivities. They supplied me with a driver and I was ferried around Tainan in air conditioned comfort either alone or with the residing priest.
I was supposed to be there to photograph Jishan Tang’s Bajiajiang getting ready, but was late. They started at 3am! I thought I was supposed to be there by five. They had already left. I caught up with them by 5:30 at Baotian Temple.
We went to the old Earth God Temple, among others, in downtown Tainan to pay respects — but it is in and around Xigang that this zhentou troupe can really be appreciated.
Their official role is to escort Xigang Chingan Temple’s main gods, but they also perform exorcism and protection rituals for the villagers as I explain here: Xigang Chingan Temple Jishan Tang Bajiajiang.
The protection ritual can be very moving, as it was at this temple, which is said to be where Xigang’s famous zhentou troupe culture began.
The relationship between the Xigang locals and the troupes is very close and the deep mutual respect is clearly evident. In the above photo General Gan blesses an elderly local, a touching moment to see this tough looking tattooed guy gently carrying out a blessing/protection ritual.
This gorgeous temple was in the middle of Xigang rice fields.
Guang De Tang Bajiajiang (probably the literary messenger.)
This Song Jiang Battle Array is said to be one of Taiwan’s oldest. I was told their lion is about three hundred years old.