Earth God Temple in Jingmei

The ubiquity of Earth God temples in Taiwan is succinctly summed up in a local proverb, “Earth God is at head and end of the fields, at the head and end of the streets.” Earth God’s formal title is the “Right God of Blessing and Virtue.” He holds a modest rank among deities that is comparable to the position of a village chief in the mortal world, but He is the closest to the hearts of people: many pray to Him for blessings, increased wealth, and good luck with farming. Earth God temples can be easily found in rural villages in Taiwan, and residents worship Him at home. In the past, such temples were also built at the entrances to mines in Jingmei; miners would pray for blessings from the god before they began work for the day. There are 13 Earth God temples in Jingmei, which are introduced as follows:

  1. Jinxing Temple

Built in 1934 (the 8th year of the Showa era), Jinxing Temple used to stand at the end of Kengbe Street (nowadays Jingmei Street) and next to Jiying Temple. The temple was located specifically on the lower section of Kengbe Street; non-locals gathered around the temple, where a hustling marketplace used to operate. After its reconstruction was completed on September 11, 2007, the temple, previously the oldest of its kind in Jingmei, now had a fresher look than any of its equivalents in the region. The temple draws many worshippers; a lot of business people are said to have struck it rich worshipping there. The temple’s reconstruction was financed by Lian Shan Construction, which is based in Jingmei.

  1. Jingmei Fuxing Temple 

Fuxing Temple, located across Xinglong Elementary School and within Alley 6 of Fuxing Road, is the oldest temple in Shiwufen Village that dates back to 1859 (the 9th year of the Xianfeng era). It was originally dedicated to a stone tablet inscribed “Right God of Blessing and Virtue.” Following a reconstruction after World War II, the temple contained the statues of Earth God and Earth Goddess. After an expansion in 1977, the temple was furnished with a bigger Earth God statue and a splendid performance platform. The stone tablet inscribed “Right God of Blessing and Virtue” is preserved under the hall for believers to worship. In 2015, Fuxing Temple was registered as a cultural asset of Taipei City for it witnessed the developments how the local region had been developed and its well-maintained appearance made it worth preserving. It was renovated and expanded in 2019, with a seating ceremony held on October 15 the following year.

  1. Wenshan Xing An Temple 

Xing An Temple is located on No. 64 of Ally 16 of Xianyan Road. It was built in 1917 (the 6th year of the Taisho era) at the entrance to Yongfeng Coal Mine beneath Xianjiyan (Fairy Footprint Rock); miners would pray for blessings from the temple’s Earth God before they entered the mine to start work. The temple could not even accommodate one person when it was just unveiled. The exploitation of the coal mine paused for a while; 12 local households, among them the family of Lai Linsong, did not move out. The exploitation resumed in 1973, followed by the construction of a new Earth God temple led by Lai in 1979; the temple would be expanded in 1984. When Wheatfield Village was being built nearby, the temple was shifted to a different place to ensure the integrity of its foundation; meanwhile, a construction firm built two layers of bonding plaster for the temple and believers paid to have the shrine’s looks spruced up. The entire refurbishment was completed in 1994, and the temple’s appearance has remained unchanged since then. As the temple was moved out, its current location was at the entrance to the now-defunct Yongfeng Coal Mine.

  1. Dinggonguan Fude Temple

On Gongguan Street leading to the entrance to Section 5 of Roosevelt Road, there is an arched gateway for Dinggonguan Fude Temple. If you go along Gongguan Street and enter the temple from the right side of the street, you will find the temple sandwiched between two apartment buildings; this is a unique scene attributed to urban development. The neighborhood of Gongguan Street, which had already been developed when Jingmei was at its early development, is formerly known as Dinggongguan. In the alley across Fude Temple, there is a row of quaint red-brick homes, which are the remnants of the local community in the old days. The temple, built in 1964, is dedicated to Earth God, also known as “Right God of Blessing and Virtue.” Locals were mostly surnamed Xu, as evidenced by a monument installed in the temple that is inscribed with a list of donors who all have this first name.

  1. Gonggguan Fude Temple

Built at the end of Section 4 of the present-day Roosevelt Road more than a hundred years ago, Fude Temple was moved to Section 4 of Tingzhou Road in the front left of National Taiwan Normal University’s Gongguan Campus in 1972. In 1992, it had a major renovation—exquisitely decorated with stone dragon pillars and wall sculptures custom-carved in China. The small alley (Alley 23 of Section 4 of Tingzhou Road) in the front left of the temple is an old route of Wan-Xin Railway. The temple was uprooted and relocated to No. 42 of Section 5 of Roosevelt Road in July 2010 because of an urban renewal project.

  1. Fude Temple behind Coast Guard Administration

Near the entrance to the now-defunct Xinyi Coal Mine (the end of the alley from No. 121 of Alley 304 of Section 3 of the present-day Xinglong Road) is a shrine of worship that stands about 1 m tall: Fude Temple. It is dedicated to Earth God, also known as “Right God of Blessing and Virtue.” In the past, miners would pray for peace at this Earth God temple before they entered the mine, and it is the smallest that’s ever been around in Jingmei.

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※ 感謝鄭之瑜(Kat Chamberlain)老師協助本文翻譯校閱。
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何文賢 / He Wen-hsien

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