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Conceptualizing Gods through Statues: A Study of Personification and Localization in Taiwan

  • Wei-Ping Lin (a1)

When I first started fieldwork in Wannian, a village in southwestern Taiwan, I stayed in the village leader's house. At this early stage of the fieldwork, my relationship with the villagers was no more than polite and formal. One afternoon, I heard villagers talking in low and urgent voices about their temple's god statue. When I approached, they fell silent. No matter how I tried to question them about what had happened, they would tell me nothing. In the following days the village atmosphere became ponderous and oppressive, and I felt my presence there becoming increasingly awkward. Thinking that leaving for a while might provide a relief for both the villagers and me, I moved to a neighboring village. Since it was only one kilometer away, the wind brought the sound of the Wannian village loudspeaker. Though they had lowered the volume, I could vaguely hear announcements of preparations for upcoming ceremonies of worship. After a month, I moved back to Wannian, but only several years later did I understand what had happened.

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Stephen Feuchtwang . 1993. Historical Metaphor: A Study of Religious Representation and the Recognition of Authority. Man 28, 1: 3549.

Stephen Feuchtwang . 2001 [1991]. Popular Religion in China: The Imperial Metaphor. London: Curzon.

Steven Harrell . 1987. The Concept of Fate in Chinese Folk Ideology. Modern China 13, 1: 90109.

Igor Kopytoff . 1986. The Cultural Biography of Things: Commoditization as Process. In, Arjun Appadurai , ed., The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Richard Von Glahn . 2004. The Sinister Way: The Divine and the Demonic in Chinese Religious Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Mingming Wang . 1995. Place, Administration, and Territorial Cults in Late Imperial China: A Case Study from South Fujian. Late Imperial China 16, 1: 3378.

Robert Weller . 1987. Unities and Diversities in Chinese Religion. Durham: Duke University Press.

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Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • ISSN: 0010-4175
  • EISSN: 1475-2999
  • URL: /core/journals/comparative-studies-in-society-and-history
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