Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History

The Chenghuang Temple: History

The last of the main temples to be established was the Chenghuang miao, or City God Temple. Although the smallest and least socially-rooted  of the three, the Chenghuang Temple's existence bore foundational linkages to modern Jilong and symbolized the place's prominence in the sacred geography of the Chinese spiritual realm. The City God, Chenghuang Ye, was a key figure in the official pantheon, as it was a deity who oversaw the safety and stability of locations that were particularly important in the administrative hierarchy. The cheng in the deity's name is the same character as wall (城), and only places significant enough to get walls around them usually received Chenghuang Temples. Jilong was not such a place. Nevertheless, when Liu Mingchuan, a leader of the late-Qing self-strengthening movement, became Taiwan's first governor in 1885, he directed his modernizing attentions on Jilong's harbor as the gateway to Taiwan and its new capital, Taipei. In response, local residents took it upon themselves to consecrate the town for Chenghuang Ye. In 1887, two local civil-service examination degree holders established a small temple in the deity's honor, just off the water's edge and a couple of blocks north of the Qing'an. If the residents of Jilong properly performed the ceremonies in his honor—his sacred territory could overlap with the entire physical geography under the administration of Jilong's local officials, and protect the whole town.

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