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

The Dianji Temple: History

The Dianji gong was the second of the main temples established in Jilong, and it represented the particular character of the settlement of North Taiwan. Across the southwest and central coasts, the regions with the longest history of Chinese settlement, Quanzhou people generally arrived first and in larger numbers, but in the north, it was the Zhangzhou settlers who preceded and predominated. These people honored one deity in particular, a figure known as Kaizhang shengwang, the Sage Lord who opened Zhangzhou, in addition to Mazu. These Chinese pioneers of northern Taiwan brought their pioneering deity with them, and installed him within the Qing'an Temple, alongside Mazu. As Jilong's status among Taiwan's port towns rose during the late 19th century, its growth promoted in part by foreign interest in the island's tea, sugar, and camphor, local residents decided that the Kaizhang shengwang needed a home of his own. In 1875, they built the Dianji Temple in his honor, a few blocks east of his previous abode. By doing so, they designated a new piece of sacred terrain in the small town, one with historical and institutional threads that connected it to the Qing'an, with the street that ran between them serving as both a physical and metaphysical conduit.

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