Thursday, July 23, 2015

Zhiben Catholic Church

The exterior of the Immaculate Conception Church in Zhiben, Taitung County resembles neither a European church - there's no steeple - nor any of the Catholic houses of worship around the island which incorporate Chinese 'Northern Palace' architecture. Like many buildings that date from the early 1950s, it's a simple concrete box that leaks when there's heavy rain. Yet the grounds are spacious and the interior reflects the heritage of the indigenous Puyuma people who worship here.

According to the priest, around 70 people attend Sunday service, and both Mandarin and the Puyuma language are used in the church; click on the photo below to enlarge it, and you'll notice the hymn book has romanized Puyuma as well as Chinese script. Visitors should ask for permission from the priest or caretaker before entering the church, the address of which is 15, Lane 331, Zhiben Road Section 3 (知本路3段331巷15號). There's a map and Chinese-language information here. The wall which surrounds the churchyard has paintings which show scenes from the tribe's oral history.

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