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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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