Sihcao Dajhong Temple
Sihcao Dajhong Temple is most famous as the original seat of worship of Chen You (陳酉), the only native-born Taiwanese to be deified at the command of an emperor of China.
The actual origins of the temple are lost to history. The first known mention in the Chinese written record occurs in 1700, when the Kangsi Emperor wrote a directive ordering the rebuilding of the temple. However, a Dutch map from the 17th century shows a temple at the location, and it is quite possible that a temple of some sort existed even before that time.
Sihcao Dajhong Temple is located on what used to be Beishanwei Island, which straddled Tainan's Luerhmen and Anping Harbors before the area silted in. Initially inhabited by the Pingpu tribe, this strategic location was later occupied by the Dutch, who were finally ousted by Ming Dynasty General Koxinga in 1661-1662.
In its earlier years, the temple rose to prominence as a site to bury and pay respects to Chinese soldiers killed in the war between Koxinga and the Dutch as well as to people who had drowned or been lost at sea. The name of the temple, which loosely translates to the Temple of the People, reflects this early history.
Chen You, the Commander-in-Chief of the Gods' Forces
Later, during theCing Dynasty, the temple took on even greater significance as the center of worship of Chen You, the "Great General." Chen You started life as a porter in Tainan. He was known for his extraordinary strength; legend has it that when the ship of a Cing official was stranded on shore, he single-handedly pushed the boat into the water when an entire group of people had been unable to do so.
Later, serving in the Cing military, Chen was instrumental in putting down the short-lived 1721 rebellion against Cing rule led by Jhu Yi-Guei. As time passed, his loyalty and scrupulous honesty in his administration of military affairs led to him being promoted to the highest-ranked Taiwanese officer in the Cing dynasty. Unfortunately, his enemies carried out a whisper campaign against him in an attempt to cause him to lose favor with the emperor.
With his honor impugned, Chen committed suicide by drowning. According to reports, his body floated across the shallow lagoon to the island. When the emperor received the news, he decreed that Chen should be deified and honored with the title Commander-in-Chief of the Gods’ Forces, with Sicao Dazhong Temple as his seat of worship. Over the years, worship of the Great General has spread, and his effigies have been enshrined in over three hundred temples in Taiwan and elsewhere.
The Temple as a Center of Local Worship
Sihcao Dajhong Temple is the main temple of Tainan's Taijiang area. The temple has undergone several enlargements and renovations, and many other gods have been enshrined in the temple over the years, including Guanyin (the Goddess of Mercy), Mazu (the Goddess of the Sea), Jhu Sheng Niang Niang (the Goddess of Childbirth), Lady Linshuei, and Fu DeJheng Shen (Village Deity). Local people come here to pray and seek direction for their careers, education, marriages, childbearing, and more.
Nearby Points of Interest
In 1917, the Japanese, who occupied Taiwan at the time, started up a salt industry which is still in operation today. The traditional-style salt fields are a beautiful sight to see.
The nearby Sihcao Wetlands were set aside by the Tainan City government in 1994 for the preservation of the Black-faced Spoonbill and other endangered migratory and local wetlands species. Visitors can enjoy a quiet boat ride down the Sihcao Tunnel, an old canal roofed over by mangroves, or a longer boat trip on the lake and through the wetlands area. The wetlands preserve is only a short walk from the temple.
No. 360, Dazhong Rd., Annan Dist., Tainan City 70975, Taiwan (R.O.C.)