The unique temple culture of Taiwan has its roots in folk religious beliefs. From the temple architecture to worship rituals to zhentou (temple troupe parades), every form of the culture has its own special meaning. But as generations evolve, some of the traditions gradually become forgotten.
For years, Daguang Elementary School (Tainan, Taiwan) principle, Ms. Yang Hsu-chi, has been dedicated to systemizing the zhentou performance. Today, she has established much more: from image techniques to zhentou choreography, the culture is being beautifully transformed into fascinating performances by her student troupe.
As a part of the dedication to our local traditions, Apacer has adopted this theme in hopes of preserving and spreading this cultural heritage.
A street zhentou performance: a student troupe performing Bajiajiang, or The Eight Generals, at a Honolulu Festival in Hawaii, United States. Each student is dressed up as a different deity.
Despite the limited the budget, teachers worked hand-in-hand to perfect every part before the performance. Because the professional face-painter couldn’t travel with the troupe, Ms. Yang and 2 teachers rolled up their sleeves and carefully reproduced the facial art as they painted the students’ faces themselves.
The procession on Kalalaua Ave in Honolulu: the Guan-jiang-shou, (Head Generals in the World of the Dead), Bajiajiang (The Eight Generals), and San Tai Zi (The 3rd Prince)” strode the street and were quite a marvel with their bright colors. The stunned onlookers were excited and mistook their makeup as masks, wondering where they could be purchased!
The character of General Tseng (aka the Umbrella General) at the parade, played by a female head flutist of the school’s Chinese orchestra, walked with an exaggerated swagger. The authentic performance even brought tears to the eyes of some Taiwanese onlookers, touched by memories of their home and culture.
At a press conference just before setting out to the US, the members of the troupe showcased their multi-talents with support from their teachers. Featured in the image is a male Er-hu (a -2-stringed Chinese fiddle))performer, who also played General Gan, helping out a fellow junior female student, who plays both the Chinese Lute and performs as the Ox Head.
Guan-jiang-shou are the police generals in the World of Dead. They are the guards serving at the sides of the gods during temple processions and are also believed to be tutelary deities. Students adopted a fresh approach that reinvents the old temple ceremony into a performance art.