A detail from an immense piece of carved jade shows bamboo stems and leaves. Throughout Greater China, bamboo is regarded as symbolizing strength, an acceptance of the natural flow of events, and an openness to wisdom. Because it grows very well across much of mainland China and in every part of Taiwan, is has also been used for house construction as well as making furniture, toys and musical instruments. While some Taiwanese now regard the use of bamboo as quaint, some artists and scientists are drawn to the material because it's both cheap and eco-friendly.
The work shown above can be seen in Gongtian Temple (拱天宮) in the Miaoli County seaside village of Baishatun (白沙屯). It weighs 1.7 tonnes, measures 2.35m in length and was carved in Hualien County in 2002 out of Italian jade.
The temple is best known for an annual pilgrimage that begins and ends here. Like the better-known festival that kicks off down the coast at Dajia’s Jenn Lann Temple, it expresses Taiwanese people’s adoration of Mazu, the sea goddess. In 2011, the pilgrimage was declared a national intangible cultural asset by Taiwan’s government.