Sigang Cingan Temple
History of Sigang Cingan Temple
The founding of Sigang Cingan Temple is directly connected with Ming Dynasty general Koxinga's invasion of Taiwan to drive out the Dutch, who then occupied the island, in the 17th century.
In 1661, Koxinga landed his forces in Luermen Harbor in preparation for his invasion. He stationed one battalion of soldiers in Sigang. One soldier, a geomancer,or fengshui expert, noted that the land where Cingan Temple now situated formed a geographical phenomenon known as a sacred abode of carp fishes. This was a profoundly auspicious sign of divine presence, and the local villagers made a decision to build Sigang Cingan Temple on the site.
When Koxinga brought his fleet over from China, he carried with him for protection the consecrated statues of two deities—Cheng Huang (the city god), and Nezha (the Marshal of the Central Altar).
Like most temples in Taiwan, SigangCingan Temple has seen frequent renovations and expansions over the centuries, the most recent being a major makeover carried out in 1994. As the temple has grown, the number of deities it contains has likewise increased, until now the temple houses over a hundred deities.
Introduction of Main Deities
Mazu is the goddess of the sea, and as such, has become one of the most important members of Taiwan’s pantheon of gods. Mazu springs from an actual historical figure, Lin Moniang, a devout young woman who lived on Meizhou Island in Fujian Province sometime in the 10th century. The quiet young girl showed signs of a religious propensity early on. At the age of sixteen, while weaving, she entered a trance state during which she was able to save her fisherman father from drowning in a typhoon. As the goddess Mazu, she is a powerful protection deity, particularly for fishermen and travelers at sea.
During Sigang Cingan Temple’s establishment in 1712, worshippers installed an effigy of Mazu that had been consecrated at Luerhmen Tianhou Temple. Since then, Mazu has become the primary god worshipped at the temple.
Cheng Huang, the City God
Worship of Cheng Huang, the city god, goes all the way back to the Zhou Dynasty. The city god is tasked with protecting cities or other geographic areas and is also responsible for judging departed souls. The city god effigy at SigangCingan temple is the one brought over by Koxinga. He is flanked by two celestial judges. The white-faced judge records the life and deeds of every living person. The black-faced judge passes judgment on the dead based on their record in life.
City god temples were official government temples and could be established at the city, county, or provincial level. Because of their official status, the doors of city god temples are studded rather than being painted with door gods.
Nezha is known as the Third Prince or the Marshall of the Celestial Army. He is a popular deity in Taoist folk religion. According to legend, Nezha was born during the Shang Dynasty, 3000-4000 years ago. When his mother gave birth to a large ball of flesh after a three-year pregnancy, his horrified father struck it with his sword. The ball of flesh split open to reveal a vivacious young boy already able to walk and talk. The education of this superhuman child was taken over by a Taoist immortal, and after many adventures, he was raised by the Jade Emperor to the position of Marshall of the Celestial Army, where he plays the role of demon-slayer with the power to protect his followers from evil.
No. 32, Qing'an Rd., Xigang Dist., Tainan City 72341, Taiwan (R.O.C.)