在漢字世界中「博物館」一詞最早出現在日本幕末外交官岩瀨忠震（Tadanari Iwase）的家臣市川清流（Seiryu Ichikawa），在其《尾蠅歐行漫錄》中被提及。市川清流是在1862年「第一回遣歐使節」時，隨其主公由東京出發，前往歐洲遊歷；而《尾蠅歐行漫錄》即是記錄整趟旅程的日誌。當市川清流於同年5月22日參觀「British Museum」（大英博物館）時，即以「博物館」三字來形容該空間，且在他的描述下，「大英博物館」是座充滿「神仙像」、「裸體人像」和「斷牌」的「巨堂」。而當一行人參觀柏林的博物館時，市川清流則是以「斷牌」、「石棺」、「石佛」、「飛仙」，以及「人畜的乾固體」（標本）來形容館內的展示品。市川清流的描述提醒了我們，在未曾了解「博物館」概念和社會意義的傳統東亞學者，在直觀的感受下，所觀看到的「博物館」究竟為何物？在市川清流眼中的博物館可能不僅是「藏寶閣」或是「寶藏院」，也是充滿著「神仙像」、「斷牌」、「石佛」、「飛仙」之室；而在東亞，最接近市川清流所描述的空間經驗，即是進入東亞佛、道教廟宇的空間經驗。在此或許會產生廟宇為宗教空間，而博物館則是公共教育、西方分類科學的研究、展示機構之間的矛盾，兩者看似互為屬性差異極大的空間，然而實際上，博物館也不過是歐洲文化將「理性意識」轉化之後的廟宇殿堂，目的是為了頌揚啟蒙之後的科學、殖民宗教。事實上，在進入到蘇聯時期之後，俄羅斯境內許多重要的教堂或清真寺等宗教空間，被直接轉化為「博物館」，對外開放給大眾，供民眾明白革命前的「迷信」空間。
另外，筆者認為神佛信仰及宮廟文化，並非單純的「本土」文化，其本身在亞洲區域也具備充足的國際性，以該信仰文化所延伸而出的知識論，是可以輕易地展開相關的國際性討論。舉例來說，當筆者在數年前，首次展開於越南地區的當代藝術交流時，即驚訝地發現，越南來臺駐村的藝術家，往往可以輕易辨認出宮廟中的神祇：「這座是Quan Công（關公），我的家人也會拜。哇，你們的媽祖，我們叫Thiên Hậu（天后），通常都是漁村會有這種廟。」當然，更不用說，相同的信仰體系，早已透過漢人的移民，遍布東南亞各地。在同樣的信仰背景之下，雙方的藝術家，往往可透過共同的認識論、道德價值，以及宗教觀，很快速地進入到核心的藝術討論。我曾經從一位越南行為藝術家的口中聽到「安居樂業」這四個字，以越語音念出。如果我今天面對的是另外一個文化系統的藝術家，我則可能要先跟對方辯論「輪迴」是否存在，接著還要解釋家庭對於個人的宰制力量，而對方通常只能「理解」，而無法「體會」。
3 越文以「viện bảo tàng」來翻譯博物館，漢字意思為「寶藏院」。
6 媽祖於越南稱為Thiên Hậu Thánh Mẫu，漢字為天后聖母。
A Field Reflecting Colonial Modernity
────── Nobuo Takamori
Translated by Hui-jun Huang
Museums vs. Temples
In the history of Japanese words, “hakubutsukan,” or museum, was used firstly in Biyō Ōkō Manroku (Notes of A Fly Which Follows His Lord in Europe)[1 ] by Seiryu Ichikawa, who was a vassal of Tadanari Iwase, a diplomat in the Bakumatsu period. In 1862, when First Japanese Embassy to Europe started, he followed his lord from Tokyo to Europe, and that book was his diary of this journey. On May 22, he visited the British Museum, and used “hakubutsukan,” literally “a house of numerous things,” to describe the exhibition space. Based on his description, the British Museum was a “huge hall” full of “gods idols,” “naked figures” and “broken slabs.” Later, when they visited museums in Berlin, Ichikawa used “broken slabs,” “stone coffins,” “stone Buddha statues,” “flying gods” and “dehydrated bodies of human beings and animals” (specimens) to describe those displayed.
According to Ichikawa’s descriptions, we can see how a traditional, Eastern Asian scholar would portray a museum without knowing the concepts and social meanings of it. Based on Ichikawa’s ideas, a museum is more than “a treasure collection” or “a house of treasures,” and it is a hall that displays “gods idols,” “broken slabs,” “stone Buddha statues” and “flying gods.” In Eastern Asia, Ichikawa’s descriptions associate most likely with the space of Buddhist or Taoist temples. A temple is with religious purposes and a museum is for public education, scientific research or exhibition. The functions of both may seem completely different and contradictory, but a museum can be understood as a temple in that the European cultures worship reason and consciousness and have valued science and colonialism since the Enlightenment. In fact, in the USSR period, many important religious spaces in Russia like churches or mosques were reassigned as museums and opened to the public to let people know more about the space that generated “superstition” before revolutions.
Therefore, maybe the biggest problem we are having is that no matter how alike a temple and a museum are in terms of theory, constitution and cultural implication, these two spaces are of colossal differences in their characteristics for Taiwanese people. Some people even consider them at the two ends of the development spectrum with one is “before the Enlightenment” and the other “after the Enlightenment.”
When reviewing the history of modern architecture in Taiwan, we can find that many architects had entirely ignored discussions on temple space and works in it. In Taiwan, important religious buildings after the Second World War include “Tainan Bahá’í Center” (1957) by Ci He-Chen, “Taipei Grand Mosque” (1960) by Cho-cheng Yang, “Luce Memorial Chapel” (1963) by Chi-kwan Chen, “East Gate Presbyterian Church” (1980) by Da-hong Wang. Built before WWII, there was “Kenkou Shrine” (1928) by Kaoru Ide. Today, we also have some architects like C.Y. Lee working in the field of Buddhist temples. Yet, architectures of temples had been completely excluded from the history of modern architecture in Taiwan. If we take the amount of followers and temples of traditional religions in Taiwan into consideration, it is quite irrational that many modern architects focus only on buildings of religions with fewer followers.
It had never been comprehensively and systematically researched in any field regarding what made Taiwanese people reject their own traditional religions. When in the Qing dynasty, Taiwan had official temples, like Tainan Grand Matsu Temple, with ceremonies arranged by the government. In the final years of the Japanese rule period, with the movements of promoting Japanization and Shinto, related colonial policies like “Temple Management Movement” were made. As a consequence, developments of many traditional religions were prohibited in the name of breaking down “superstition” or “conventions.” Basically, with the knowledge structure built up in the Japanese Rule period, Chinese and aboriginal religions in Taiwan were regarded as the opposite of “modernity.” In this structure, traditional religions were frozen in time and were banned from entering the modern society. However, this suppression had not gone away with the end of the Japanese rule. The KMT government defined their version of modernity. According to this updated definition, all religions were incorporated into nationalism. With the encouragement of the party-state regime, “memorial halls,” “martyr’s shrines” and “National Palace Museum” highlighting Chinese culture were the only spaces where belief of state religion can be shown.
At the same time, local Buddhism and Taoism in Taiwan have been excluded from the KMT’s party-state system, and they were categorized as “folk” religions with a hierarchical implication. Politically speaking, therefore, unlike religious institutions such as mosques or churches in other countries which can be elevated to a national level, a temple in Taiwan can never be seen as a national symbol. On the contrary, folk religions have been associated with people in the lower social stratum in terms of language use. As one can see, “official experts” assigned by both the Japanese colonial regime and the KMT government to engage in the construction of temple spaces have never been official architects, mural makers or sculptors, but anthropologists. From anthropological research before the Second World War to Academia Sinica after the Second World War, and later to the anthropological exhibitions in the National Museum of Natural Science, anthropology or folkology have become a tool to deprive potential modernity of its research subjects.
It seems appropriate to say that colonial regimes and the modernity they brought along have destroyed Taiwanese temple cultures, which had been developed for more than two hundred years. The main reason behind that was the surrender of the intellectual who had often been leaders of local communities and members of temple administrative committees. They extended their interests and tastes by building and operating temples as well as managing artistic expressions and social services relating to temples. In the beginning of the twentieth century, these local leaders started to quit from temples, and it directly damaged the culture. This resulted from two major pressures: rapid urbanization, which pushed young intellectuals out from their home; and the modern discourse of enlightenment, which made the temple culture a folk custom or even bad, anti-modern conventions. Because of so, after the Second World War, almost all scholars resigned themselves from temple committees and local politics/cultures closely related to temples. Instead, being highly profitable with abundant political and economic resources, temples have attracted gangsters, criminals, politicians, police members, and people in relating interest groups since then. Therefore, the development of temple culture has been led to a way with no return that people think of it as “anti-intellectualism,” “folk,” and “traditional.”
Nowadays, delicate altars made by local excellent artists have been replaced by cheap factory-made and imported ones, nanguan music performed by professional musicians has been replaced by pole dancers and strippers and graceful, classical architectures have been replaced by complicated and high buildings. In addition to temple committee members, it seems that temple priests, like jitong (spiritual medium) and ang-î (“witch” or “shaman”), also do not have the characteristics to make temple culture “modern.” Chou-lung Tsai, a psychologist and medium of Ji Gong, once pointed out that current Buddhist and Taoist priests in Taiwan were running their business in a primitive manner. As a result, most jitong and ang-î have lost their connections with people as people’s livings are more complicated than before and that they cannot deal with diversified issues of family, job, gender and values. To better address this, Tsai suggested that we should have a system like that of a theological seminary or Buddhist institute to train religious workers with “modern knowledge” in the hope to restore traditional religions.
Hence, one could say that intellectuals’ resignation from religion is the main issue we are facing. Today, intellectual religious workers, like Chou-lung Tsai, are extremely rare in temples in Taiwan. Via Tsai, when Ji Gong was introducing His descending[5 ]experiences to us, He also pointed out that limited knowledge and language ability of a jitong could pose huge obstacles to summoning spirits.
The Modernity and Anti-modernity of Temple Space
When Taiwan was under the rule of Japan, temples did not passively resist modernity. Nanyao Temple in Changhua, for instance, had a “Rebuilding Committee of Nanyao Temple” in the beginning of the Japanese rule period, and it led the temple’s restoration which finished in 1916. The restored Nanyao Temple integrated European styles in the facade of the original architecture, and based on traditional Taiwanese architectural style, Japanese altars and Baroque wall decorations were all blended in as what it is like today. Nanyao Temple, then, became absolutely a wonder among all temples in Taiwan. Its mixed styles and the underlying ambitions of the renovation have seldom been surpassed by other temples. Yet they had to face a critical issue, that is, the once-rich temple (the reason that it started the renovation project) failed to convince its followers with the innovative style, and it led to the plunge of follower population.
Thus, when discussing how to connect traditional religions with the modern society, we should take into consideration existing economic structures embedded in the religious culture and followers’ perceptions of modernity. We should not, of course, simply take introducing Western cultures as developing the modernity, and vice versa. In the case of Nanyao Temple, we can see that traditional religious communities has a streak of conservativeness which may not be found in introduced foreign religions. Accordingly, when discussing why architects and artists avoid making religious artworks, we also should not ignore the followers’ preference to conservativeness and the patriarchal system inherent in traditional religious structures.
When trying to glorify the potential dynamics of traditional religions, we should carefully remember that the traditional religious structure is the very base of patriarchy and conservative families. When it comes to temple traditions, we tend to focus on ceremonies, visual expressions and performances but overlook changes of communal relationship in the modern society. Today, the society is more alienated and individual-oriented, and gathering a tribal or village assembly is completely different from how we used to do in the past. We have more spectacular and complex Buddhist/Taoist ceremonies now due to neo-liberalism and the economic growth in Taiwan. According to research, the scale of a temple event is closely related to economic development. Ironically, the ones who generously sponsor traditional religions are often the capitalists in OEM business who benefit the most from this exploitive economic structure fueled by neo-liberalism.
At the end of the day, what kind of gods should we worship? How can we represent a near-future god? I consider that returning of gods is not a complete reversal. From some obscure instances, we could still see the freedom in traditional religions. After the lifting of martial law, cultures of jitong has been developed much around Taiwan. This shows that the KMT’s version of modernity and its militarist ideologies cannot meet people’s psychological needs, and people cannot find their redemption in this society imbued with modernity. Moreover, people lack the abilities to imagine diversified spaces.
So, when we are trying to go on to the next journey of traditional religions, where are we heading exactly?
A New Space for Temple Culture
Temple culture has existed in Taiwan for more than three or four centuries, and every temple is like a hard disk drive of this island that records all local cultures and historical tracks of the plain aborigines, the Chinese, and the Japanese. These records in the disks fill the blank in visual and performance art which would otherwise be absent in the Taiwanese history. Besides being a space of history and art, a temple is also a space of solving secular issues with the help of religious workers. Except for magnificent rituals joined by numerous people, can we also study women in the temple space to know what role they play in traditional religions. Outside this assembly dominated by local patriarchal politics, how do women and family members see traditional religions?
I also think that traditional religions and temple culture are not just some “local culture” but also very international as its distinctive epistemology can easily generate cross-border conversations in Asia. For example, when I first interacted with contemporary artists from Vietnam, I found they could easily identify Gods in temples: “This is Quan Công (Guan Gong) my family also worship him. Wow, it is Matsu, or Thiên Hậu in our language. I know that Her temples are common in fishing villages.” Of course, the same religious system has been spread out to every corner of Southeastern Asia by Chinese immigrants. With this religious system, discussions between artists from various countries can often easily reach to the core with shared epistemology, values, morals and faith. Once, I heard a Vietnamese performance artist say the Chinese idiom “living safely and working smoothly” in Vietnamese. If I meet artists from a different cultural system, I may need to first argue over the existence of “reincarnation,” then I may also have to explain how family influences and affects an individual, while most of the time they can only “understand it” instead of “relating themselves to it.”
Is that possible for us to draw a new map of Buddhism and Taoism that can go beyond boundaries of islands and cross over the oceans? How can we use Taiwanese artists as a new CPU to activate the system and data saved in hard disk drives to re-summon all the gods, ghosts, memories, histories and fantasies? Maybe, Asian people have already built many “huge halls” to place numerous “broken slabs,” “gods idols,” “stone Buddha statues” and “flying gods.” Yet, these “stone Buddha statues” and “flying gods” are never for colonial empires to manifest their power, neither are they for anthropology, archeology and art history serving the imperial academia. In our “huge halls,” “stone Buddha statues” and “flying gods” have their subjectivity and they are our time-honored village guardians. They selfishly mobilize large manpower and demand material resources and lots of time to perform never-ending ceremonies. On the other hand, they selflessly protect, encourage, inspire and empower their followers. Maybe this is the nature of traditional religions: we do not collect, neither do we categorize and reserve. Indeed, our religious experiences and memories are created by consumption and depletion. They are vigorous, magnificent and powerful like firecrackers, fireworks and King Boat burning—with the blazing fire, we enjoy and devour visual sensation, ecstasy, innovation, destruction, faith, awe, hope, and piety altogether.
1 In the title of the book, Biyō Ōkō Manroku, Biyō (“a following fly”) was a nickname of Seiryu Ichikawa given by himself to say that he was no more than a fly following his lord. Yet from the diary of this “Biyō,” we can see genuinely valuable insights that were hardly ever seen from other Eastern Asian scholars.
2 The goal of the mission was to delay the opening of harbors for trades. A group of “samurai” departed from Japan in the beginning of 1862 and returned in 1863. They had visited the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Russia and the Kingdom of Prussia for the mission, and they also passed by British Hong Kong, British Singapore, British Ceylon, British Yemen, Egypt, the Crown Colony of Malta and Portugal. They also attended the very first world’s fair, and thus visited the Crystal Palace.
3 In Vietnamese, a museum is called as “viện bảo tàng,” which means “a house of treasures.”
4 In Human Cultures Hall of National Museum of Natural Science in Taichung, an exhibition named Spiritual Life of Chinese People displays many aspects of traditional religions including ceremonies, jitong and artistic expressions from the anthropological perspective.
5 “Spirits” is a formless power referring to gods or Buddha, who possess the body of a jitong (spiritual medium) and even speak as a way to “show their powers.” Such summoning can be performed without using a person as a medium, however. Sometimes a spirit can be summoned and descend on a sedan which then seems to have its subjectivity.
6 In Vietnamese, Matsu is Thiên Hậu Thánh Mẫu whose literal translation is “celestial queen and holy mother.”