Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Welcome home, delegates from Penang, Malaysia

The delegates from the Koxinga Shrine in Penang, Malaysia, will start a grand tour of Taiwan on April 25.

They are invited to attend the ceremony at 延平郡王祠 starting at 8AM on April 29 that commemorates Koxinga's re-opening of Taiwan in 1661. This is to be followed by a tour of 臨水夫人廟, 永華宮, and 孔子廟.

They will then return to 鄭成功祖廟 and participate in a welcoming lunch party hosted by Tainan Cheng Clan Association. Delegates from Hirado (Japan), China, and other organizations will also attend.

On April 30, the delegates will go on a 鄭成功文化之旅 and visit 安平古堡, 赤崁樓, 大天后宮, 武廟, and other historical sites. At 4:30PM, they are to receive a statue of Koxinga from 鄭成功祖廟 to prepare for the jourbey back to Penang on May 1.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The gate to Taiwan

[Left: The shoeless Dutchmen door guards of 鹿耳門鎮門宮 (address: 台南市媽祖宮一街345巷420號).]

鹿耳門 (Luermen or Lakjemuyse) was where Koxinga's fleet sailed through at high tide in 1661 into the then Tai Bay, bypassing the defense of Ft Zeelandia, and landed north of Ft Provincia. The Dutch did not anticipate such a move. Ft Provincia quickly fell and Ft Zeelandia under siege for almost one year before capitulating. [For more, see here.]

A tiny shrine located in An-Ping honoring Koxinga and his mother was built in 1990 to commemorate the feat [better late than never]. It was aptly named 鎮門宮Gate-anchoring Palace, for 鹿耳門 was indeed the gate to Taiwan.

The temple fell into disrepair and was re-built in 2006. There are three sets of double-door gates and one of them features a pair of shoe-less Dutchmen. Bare feet跣足 symbolizes the POW status. They were therefore the defeated Dutchmen now guarding doors to the shrine. Their facial depiction is of modern origin, in fact painted by Mr 林中信Lin Chung-Shin. In 2003, the City Gov't of Tainan officially named them 鹿風Lu-Feng and 耳順Er-Shun, and conferred both of them citizenship, complete with shoe offerings. A popular petition to re-paint them with shoes on (so they can travel long distance - back home to the Netherlands) was not approved by the deities, however.

Traditionally, these paired door guards are high ranking generals known for their martial mights. Among them, the very original and the most famous are 秦瓊 (?-638AD) and 尉遲恭 (585-658AD), both Tang generals. Legend has it that the second Tang emperor 唐太宗 [李世民 599-649AD] was disturbed at night by the spirits of those he had murdered. The emperor ordered these two trusted generals to guard the palace gates that indeed effectively warded off the ghosts. Their full-length fully armored and armed portraits were then painted on the doors and found to be equally effective.

With no exception, all Buddhist and Taoist temples of Chinese origin are built with three double-door gates and each gate is guarded by a pair of door gods. The selection of these deities now varies according to the history of each temple.

The photos below show before, during, and after the re-construction of the 鹿耳門鎮門宮:


[We thank Ronnie for calling our attention to the Dutchmen door guards in Tainan.]