Keelung Ghost Festival

The entire month of July of the lunar calendar is kind of like Halloween for Taiwan. Ghosts and ancestral spirits are invited to come out and have a feast. At the Keelung Paper Lantern Festival, these paper mache water lanterns are the invitation letters.
When we make these houses, it・s like building a temple. When you glue these things on, don・t put glue on the entire backside. We want to make it more lively, so this is what we do. Do those animals have meanings? These are animals with auspicious meanings. For example the cat. Why do we put a cats on here? They have nine lives, meaning long life.
Our lantern festival was started because of a battle. People who originally lived in the mountains wanted to live down here as well, and a battle broke out. One hundred eight people died but were not properly buried, basically put into a mass grave. For a period of time, Keelung was plagued by misfortunes so people thought it might be the spirits of the dead causing trouble. Then they decided to dig up the corpses and enshrine them in a temple. The water lanterns are to remind us to be sincere in taking care of the deceased and to remember our ancestors.
Legend has it that after the water lantern festival began, things calmed down. While all of July is the time when spirits of the dead come out and play, on the 15th a huge feast is prepared for them. In addition to food, figurines traditionally crafted from rice paste are made to liven up the scene.
Since you・ve gone an invited them here, you can・t just take them to the night market for a bowl of rice with stewed pork. You have to prepare a feast. In Chinese food, color, smell and taste are very important. But in addition to tasty food, you have to prepare nice things for them to look at. These are dough figurines for looking at.
Now made from breadcrumbs and glue, these figurines can last years and years and years. I think Corey has a special affection for that black and yellow one.
Just like you I・ve seen them everywhere, and actually, once in Wugu I・ve even seen this entire life size boat built of paper. But I・ve never seen them burned, I・ve never seen them used, actually. And I never knew where they came from. So it・s quite interesting to actually find out that not only is it colorful and and not just a mock house but it actually all has meaning.



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