Friday, October 3, 2014

Koji art in a Tainan temple

Seen from the street, Jintang Temple (金唐殿) in Tainan City's Jiali District (台南市佳里區) isn't notably impressive, even though a sign proclaims it to be a national third-grade relic. What makes it special are the koji works inside and out. Several must be very valuable, as they're protected by thick sheets of glass rigged with alarms - something I don't think I've seen in other houses of worship.
The alarm system, which would be triggered if the glass was broken or removed, can be seen in the photo on the left; the ghostly figure on the right of the image is a reflection of myself holding my camera. In addition to the sages, generals and characters from Chinese mythology typically featured in shrine decorations, there's a panel showing a gentleman in Western attire. According to an information panel inside the temple, this is Dr. Sun Yat-sen, accompanied by figures in more traditional clothing (shown below).
It doesn't look anything like him, however – you'll agree if you look at the black-and-white portrait from Wikimedia Commons here. The artist even forgot the mustache! In the 3D depiction in Jiali, Sun is holding a roll of paper, not a cigar as you might think.

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