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Tainan Folk Art Performance Troupe Exhibit

Permanent Exhibition

A11 Gallery

Taiwan‘s early Han settlers faced hardship by the boatload - assuming they successfully navigated the dangerous Taiwan Strait - pestilence, disease, bandits, headhunting Aboriginals, and natural disasters such as earthquakes, typhoons, and floods awaited. In a time of limited medical and emergency facilities people often turned to the supernatural for assistance, Taiwan thus developed an admirable pantheon of gods, both created on the island or brought from the pioneers‘ homelands. Large and small temples built up around these gods and, besides being places of worship, they were community gathering areas used for education, entertainment, meetings, emergencies... and festivals.

Vibrant temple festivals have been an indispensable part of Taiwan‘s religious development. Tumultuous gatherings with throngs of people, noise, smoke, and performances; a festival‘s basic function is to pray for peace, good fortune, and to exorcise evil influences. The annual celebration of a god‘s investiture, seasonal event or holiday, commemoration of some past exorcism of pestilence and more, could all be basis for a festival.Most festivals involve a procession or parade with god effigies borne on palanquins followed by an assemblage of incense carrying disciples. Themed mobile troupes accompanying the gods - yizhen - provide protection, perform important religious rituals, and entertain the celebrants.

Tainan is the cradle of Han civilization in Taiwan and the traditional folk beliefs brought by immigrants have been passed down from generation to generation. Seasonal temple festivals, such as god birthdays, pilgrimages, local god inspection tours and ritual ceremonies, are held regularly and the traditional arts troupes -yizhen- that accompany the celebrations have flourished; giving Tainan the name "homeland of the yizhen."

The exhibit describes several yizhen troupes native to Tainan through informative life-size displays of the different troupes and their associated instruments.

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