Qingshui Temple in Wanhua, Taiwan

The roof of Qingshui Temple. Inside, it's a bit gloomy, the detail around the outside like this is cool.

This god was above the back entrance to Qingshui Temple. I don't recognize him.

According to a temple inscription, Qingshui Temple (清水巖) was built in 1787, 50 years after Wanhua or Monga's (艋舺) best-known temple Lungshan. I think there are only three of this style of ancestor temple in Taiwan: there's one in Danshui and another in San-xia. This temple was burnt down during the Ding-Xia Clan Feud (頂下郊拼) in 1853 but rebuilt by the culprits in 1867.
Until the Japanese arrived, Taiwan was pretty much a lawless frontier, with different areas under the control of local warlords and clans, and Wanhua certainly was not the exception. Writes John Shepherd in The Political Economy on the Taiwan Frontier: "[Qing Dynasty] anti-colonization policies had many unintended consequences. Most important, they left the frontier to rowdy gangs of sojourning Chinese laborers that readily participated in rebel movements and communal strife and destabilized frontier society" (Shepherd, 16). The anti-colonization policies that Shepherd is describing go right back to 1683, with the arrival of a Qing government in Taiwan. From the start, China did not want Taiwan. The Emperor Kangxi actually contemplated emptying the island of people, forcing all of the settlers to go back to China, and washing his hands of Taiwan once and for all. His advisers talked him out of it, arguing that without a Chinese presence in Taiwan, it would become a hideout for bandits and pirates. The Emperor grudgingly accepted this advice, but enforced anti-colonization policies so that the population would not grow. One of first things the Qing did was to forbid the immigration of women. The "unintended consequences" were young free men roaming about the countryside, drinking, gambling and carrying on. They didn't have wives to keep them at home and in line. Or, and this is what a lot of Chinese did do, they married Aboriginal women, which then infuriated the Aboriginal men, leading to more rebel movements and destabilization.
In a land of headhunters, pirates, bandits and ship wreckers, without police, order or competent governance, one needed to get connected to survive. This seems to have taken place regularly as seasonal workers who were supposed to have returned to China instead wandered into communities and attached themselves to others on the coincidence of a same last name. They often went as far as to adopt family trees. (I imagine this must have led to scuffles and fist fights on the other side in the spirit world, especially when it came time to accept ghost money, food and drink.)
Clan struggles are what also what led to the burning of Qingshui Temple in 1853. This is how the story goes, I think. A clan made up with individuals claiming to be from three towns in Fujian province in China, Nan-an (南安), Huei-an (惠安) and Jing-an (晉安), controlled shipping in Meng-jia (also known as Manka), the neighborhood around Lungshan Temple in Wanhua today. At that time, Meng-jia was the largest and most prosperous town in northern Taiwan. This clan constituted the "Ding" in the Ding-Xia Clan Feud. Another clan, made up people claiming to be from Tong-an (同安) and Xia-men or Amoy (廈門) was starting to gain traction just to the east. Naturally, this clan, the "Xia" in the Ding-Xia Clan Feud was looking to get in more on shipping, only the Ding was having no part of it. According to what I've read, they asked the clan living between them and the Xia, and in possession of Qingshui Temple, if they could burn it down so they had a direct line to the Xia. They claimed it was blocking the road.
The Xia clan was eventually forced up the Danshui River, to Dadoacheng, about a 20-minute bike ride from Meng-jia. But this turned out in their favor, as the river was beginning to silt up. Within a few years, boats would no longer be able to dock there. I suppose I should empathize with the Xia. My wife is a Cheng (鄭). She thinks that some of her ancestors came from just beyond Tong-an. They came to Meng-jia (Monga/艋舺) in the 18th century.


Anonymous said...

This "anti-colonization policies" actually was 施琅's idea, consisting of barring 汀,潮,惠 people (all pirates in his eyes) from entering freely into Taiwan and the officials could not bring wives from the mainland, etc. After his death in 1696, enforcement of the policies was much relaxed. It was never successfully enforced in the first place.

Patrick Cowsill said...

LOL, you know I don't agree. The laws banning immigration for women were enforced until 1788, except a brief time from 1732 to 1740. Taiwan's governor-general at the time actually pushed to have the policies relaxed, but nothing came of it long-term.

Back to Shepherd: "Governor Kao Ch'i-cho found Taiwanese customs unruly, characterized by excessive drinking and gambling. Whereas immigrants in the old settled areas around Tainan had wives and families, those in the newly opened areas to the north and south had none, and the latter, 'whose hearts have nothing to remember with affection,' were often involved in disturbances. Living in groups of 20 - 40 men, they spent their leisure and their income on gambling and drinking. When gambling and drinking exhausted their earnings, they turned to robbery. 'If each had a wife, inner and outer would be distinguished and there would be no disorder . . . . If each had to protect a household, robberies would decrease.'" (Shepherd, 149).

The policy of 1732-40 was not sincere. It was in response to the Chu I-kuei rebellion; it was meant to put a band-aid on things. At the end of the day, these carousers did not have the money or inclination to undergo such a troublesome endeavor as finding, paying for and importing wives. Instead, they looked to Aboriginal communities to find wives, which led to more unrest on the frontier. When Kao's time was up, the Qing reverted to its usual incompetence. Had they been sincere, they would've done more to facilitate the immigration of women to Taiwan. They simply took away the law for eight years. I have found nothing that suggests they provided any assistance.

Anonymous said...

Shepherd picked up this zero women line of argument from the Mandarin angle. If you follow the Hakka migration history (remember this was one of the banned groups), you'll see there was no such thing. Here is one quick link:


You must know the idiom: 上有政策,下有對策. Short of capital punishment, no policies could/can be enforced strictly in this part of the world.

Instead of towing the official line, why not do a PhD on this topic, from the people's side - your expertise.

Patrick Cowsill said...

Ah, a challenge? It is an interesting topic. I need time to digest your point of view though. You must know mine: there is no such thing as the Han.

Anonymous said...

A worthy cause - on many levels. One of them establishes you as the Taiwanese who knows the history of Taiwanese (as opposed to the history of Taiwan). On another, you'll be the pious son-in-law who actually knows where the Cheng family came from. Etc, etc, and etc.

Anonymous said...

The name Ding

My wife is a Ting, the name derives from Ding. I have visited the ancestral hall in china where there is a mosque and a chinese ancestral hall and all are Ding/Ting.

The Ding name goes back to the middle east to a muslim ( I have his name ) he arrived with two of the 4 preachers that arrived in china to preach Islam. They are both buried in the same grave yard as my wifes ancestor.

I am hoping to find others interested in searching the ancestry of the muslim side of the Ding/Ting family

Thank You