Friday, May 30, 2008

sung chiang battle array (simply taiwan 8) I don't have much knowledge of the Sung Chiang battle array (a form of martial performing arts) beyond what I observed the day I took these photos. I took these photos not long after I moved to Taiwan and lived in Meinong in Kaohsiung County. Two of my students invited me to a "fair" which turned out to be in reality a temple activity. They had taken me to the annual Goddess GuanYing Festival at the Neimen Zihjhu Temple in Neimen, a city north of our school. Neimen has reportedly around forty or fifty different battle array "troupes." Several different troupes performed one right after another. Each troupe had weapons and preformed to beating drums and gongs. Some troupes had young and old alike all performing; some didn't include children. Nearly all the performers were male. Here are some of the facts about Sung Chiang battle array that I learned by reading this article online: "Unlike many other traditional Taiwanese folk arts, the Sung Chiang battle array has never been recorded as existing in mainland China; it is purely Taiwanese." "Many of the weapons used in the Sung Chiang battle array are actually farm tools--rakes, sickles, hooks, umbrellas--used by the early peasantry." "The performances declined during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan (1895-1945) and today they are seen only during festivals, especially the birthday celebrations for Matsu (Goddess of the Sea), Emperor Paosheng (God of Medicine), and Cheng Huang (City God)." "A full-size Sung Chiang team has 108 members; smaller ones have 72 or, at a minimum, 36." "The performances vary but all include the same tactics, which add up to a total of 108." "All team members must pray to Sung Chiang before a performance starts; and, at both the beginning and end of a performance, the performers gather at the temple gate (most often, performances take place in temple courtyards), raise their weapons high, and shout 'Ho! Ho! Ho!'" Here are some of the videos I took of one of the troupes we watched: The video below is of the troupe worshiping after performing. They start by worshiping the idol in the center, then move to the right and then to the left to worship the idols to the right and left of the center god. Like I said yesterday, sometimes at temple performances there is a crowd watching and sometimes not. At this particular event, the crowd was huge! Here is only part of it:

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