Organised by the Taipei Economic & Cultural Office in Malaysia and produced by INXO Arts & Culture (L) Foundation, Tea Philo is a series of sharing sessions revolving around the discussion of philosophies and humanities. Luminaries from Taiwan are invited to share their experiences and engage with Malaysia’s local cultural communities to encourage cultural exchange.
The latest Tea Philo E-talk titled “Fashion Wave, Faith Nonstop” features speaker Mr. Titan Wu from Taiwan, spokesperson for the Taipei Xiahai City God Temple, one of the most popular temples in Taiwan. The E-Talk was broadcast through Tea Philo’s Facebook page from 3pm-5pm on 17th June 2021 (Saturday) and was moderated by Lim Chi Sern, Melaka historical and cultural walking tour leader.
Established in 1859, the century-old Xiahai City God Temple is home to statues of more than 600 deities including the City God (Chenghuang), his wife, Yue Lao (God of matchmaking, marriage and love), making it the temple with the highest statue density in Taiwan. Tradition has it that as long as Yue Lao’s statue is standing, he is working diligently to help his people find love. Xiahai City God Temple has attracted generations of locals and tourists who would like to find a partner as well as couples that would like to pray for a happy relationship. Dadaocheng, where the Xiahai City God Temple is located, was once an essential trading port in the 19th century that has witnessed important historical, social, economic, and cultural changes.
Today, beside daily economic activities, festivals and cultural activities are also frequently held around the area, as temple managers, place-makers, creative workers, and community members make continuous efforts not only to pass down centuries-old traditions and attract more worshippers, but also to preserve, showcase and educate younger generations on the rich history of the area, and to help secure the local residents’ family business continuity.
As the spokesperson for the Taipei Xiahai City God Temple, Mr. Wu has been curating open-air markets and festivals during both traditional and modern festive seasons. The team behind the temple actively participates in cultural transformations by interweaving modern elements into traditional culture. For instance, for the 2020 Dihua Street Lunar New Year Market, Xiahai City God Temple released a video introducing the history of Dadaocheng and the temple in an 8-bit RPG game-like style to commemorate the 200th year anniversary of the City God crossing the strait and making a new home in Taiwan. Wu emphasised that it is important to make things as fun and accessible as possible, so that the public will not hesitate to participate.
Wu also showed examples of local talents breathing new life into traditional crafts and cultural ideas. Xiahai City God Temple collaborated with some of these talents and produced a series of goods that tell interesting stories of their creators and their home.
Wu pointed out that since the year 2017, Dadaocheng has been amplifying the elements and contextualisation of season and time in all activities they organise. Dadaocheng Fashion Show, one of the most looked forward to annual events in Dadaocheng, is the highlight of autumn. During this season of harvest and gratitude, Dadaocheng involves fashion designers, tailors, models, fashion lovers, artists, and most importantly the general public, to celebrate the area’s rich history and legacy in the fashion and creative industries.
Wu acknowledged that for placemakers and curators, it is often a challenge to be recognised and trusted by the local communities. “Patience, continuity, and sincerity are the key,” said Wu, “you have to do your best to make sure it is always a win-win situation for all parties involved, and you have to keep trying. Time will tell.”