The forecast is Wind Gods with a strong chance of Thunder and Lightning Gods

There was this guy I used to run into at parties and before concerts who loved to humblebrag about all the celebrities he knew.  He referred to these celebrity acquaintances, without flinching, as Boldface Names.  As in “I was having coffee with a dear friend recently, well, I can’t tell you who but let’s just say he’s a Boldface Name.”  The celebrity fawning man moved away, but I continue to think of VIP types, with a fair amount of mockery and (perhaps a dash of bitterness) as Boldface Names.

Tainan had a Boldface Name problem in the mid 1700’s.  This coastal city in eastern Taiwan was a main port for Chinese ships.   VIP’s often sailed into Tainan and those big shots needed to be received in impressive style.  But you know, the area near a port is kind of messy, smelly and not swanky at all—what should the Tainanese do?

arch

To impress these big shots from the mainland the people of Tainan built a lovely stone reception archway, all carved up with dragons and lions.  When the Boldface Names arrived on the island they marched straight off their ship and through the ceremonial archway: ta da!  Feeling fancy, feeling appreciated, aren’t they now?

windgodtemple

And now these well received celebrity types could swagger through the reception archway, into the Wind God Temple.

windgod

Whether you were a Boldface Name or just a regular Joe, you go right over to the Wind God himself, bow three times and light him three sticks of incense.  This is the Wind God after all and because of him you didn’t get blown away in a typhoon on your way over from the mainland.

gods

Actually, you can bow before several versions of the Wind God (this god controls earth, water, metal and fire so he can wear all the elaborate red-ball-and-dangly-tasseled headdress he wants to, thank you very much).

thunder

Now that you’ve paid respects to the Wind God, bow before the mighty Thunder God.  With the power of his thunder drums (conveniently located underneath his feet) Thunder God makes the heavens roar.  I like his neck kerchief, don’t you?

lightening

Thunder God is not complete, however, without his loyal and ferocious wife, Electric Mother aka Lightning Goddess.  Poor Thunder God, he can only beat the sky with his Thunder Drums.  Electric Mother alone can produce deadly lightning with the power of the mirrors in the palms of her hands.  (I was surprised at how plump Electric Mother appears—not that I’ve ever seen a Lightning Goddess before but it seems like she should be tall and angular).

discs

Let’s say you have a question for one of the weather gods.  After bowing and presenting a gift of incense, pick up two crescent-moon shaped discs (there should be a lot of them around the temple).  Throw them on the ground while asking your question.  “Dear Wind God, am I the biggest Boldface Name in all of China, admired and envied by all the people of Tainan?”  If both rounded sides land up three times in a row, like in the photo, the answer is no.  If one rounded side is up and the other side is down three times in row, the answer is yes.  If the flat side comes up three times then the god is amused with the question.  (Take note: gods in Taiwan are allowed to express irony—clearly this is a superior religion).

I hope you got the answer you were hoping for.  Either way, take a moment to appreciate the handsome bell and drum near the entrance to the Wind God Temple and be grateful you had a VIP reception with the most awesome gods in all of Taiwan.

waterguys

HOB and I were greeted by these robot-shaped water vending machines close by the Wind God Temple.   We were so impressed by their grand welcome that we almost felt like Boldface Names ourselves.

 

How we got to Tainan: train from Hsinchu.

Where we slept: Tia Dao Hotel.  Price: €35 for a double. Recommended: no.

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13 comments

  1. This is great. I shall be using the term Boldface Name for ever more!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “Profusion of Eccentric Boldface Names” has a good ring to it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So it does, perhaps it’s time to consider a change! The blog could morph in to one about my many encounters with nameless celebrities (I have no doubt someone is doing this already)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting post. I’ve lived here for over two years. Think the most impressive temple I’ve visited is the Lùěrmén Tiānhòu Gōng 鹿耳門天后宮 Temple. It’s quite far from the downtown core, but worth visiting.

    The stories and temples dedicated to Zheng Cheng Gong are also quite interesting. Was informed by my last landlord that the area around Guóhuā Jiē 國華街 and Hǎi ān Lù 海安路, was once covered with water. Boats, including the Zheng’s boats, were once commonly seen in the downtown core area. Nowadays it’s just cars and scooters.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Is that the temple with all the swallow-tail roofs with the dragons on them? You’re so lucky to live in the gorgeous city of Tainan! I would love to spend more time poking through the temples there, but I’m afraid that if I stayed too long I’d get fat—the food is too good!

      Yeah, we had read that the area around the temple was once quite close to the ocean which explains the ceremonial arrival arch.

      Are you working as a translator in Tainan?

      Like

  3. Seems like a very colorful and sensible religion. I am especially fond of Electric Mother. Sure, she’s a little portly, but just remember: if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. And thunder just rolls across the sky, but Electric Mother can AIM those lightning bolts. So you don’t recommend your hotel? I’m sure there’s a story there. I’m getting better at choosing (cheap) places to stay, but making the occasional bad choice is part of the adventure. Better luck on the next one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HOB and I both felt strongly attracted to the religion although I don’t think in day to day life ancestor worship would be for me.

      Ha ha, portly Electric Mama!

      The hotel was okay for the price, but it is a sketchy operation. They deliberately double charged me and then I had a big hassle with my credit card company to get a refund.

      We usually do okay with cheap hotels. I used to avoid hostels but now I like them (there’s a certain cache of being the oldest person in the hostel, don’t you think?) What’s your secret for finding a go cheap place to stay?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wish I had a secret to share! I mostly try to get apartments so we can make many of our own meals and save a ton that way. We’re picky vegetarians and try to eat as simply as possible on the road. Not foodies, I’m afraid! We haven’t tried any hostels yet but I like the idea of being the old codgers among the young. Must try!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Most hostels have kitchens so you might like that.

      Like

  5. Over half the US and across the Pacific to Taiwan twice in four months! That’s serious miles you are picking up there. That guy with the long mustache must have liked your incence sticks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I belong to like six different frequent flyer programs–might as well rack up those miles for a free ticket. Stay tuned for another trip in the near-ish future.

      Mustache god recognized that we were from Chicago, the Windy City. It was a mutual respect situation.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I wonder if the flowing beard and moustache got any significance.Lightning Goddess looks hard to please.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Some of the gods we saw in other temples had collar-length eyebrows. Ms. Lightening surely would be impressed by that!

      Liked by 1 person

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