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The Imagination of King's Palace: The Space and Structure of a Wang Ye Ceremonial Office in Tainan

Huai-Ren LIOU (Chiao Tung University, Taiwan)
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Across all of Taiwan, the Taoist custom of welcoming a Wang Ye hunting patrol on behalf of heaven may either be a sporadic event or a regularly scheduled occurrence, and its popularity is beyond question. Usually in southern Taiwan, the welcoming of a Wang Ye patrol takes place periodically with various performances, including patrol rituals, palace rituals, and the ritual of boat send-off. The ritual carried out by the Wang Lee Family in Tainan city, which follows the ancient "ritual booklet" to conduct the ceremony, is most representative. The Wang Ye ritual differs from others: the spatial elements usually include flag pole, official entrance, music pavilion, artillery pavilion, front door, ceremonial door, and a large hall (the palace representing heaven). The allocation of each spatial element and functioning purpose closely matches the attributes of the architectural model, which is a standardized arrangement. Comparing existing Wang Ye ritualistic clues, participatory observations, and historical documents with palace building constructions that remain, the space is not simply an imaginative simulation but a systematic design arrangement. Wang Ye, as the core of the folk belief patrol ritual, depends on the constructed space supplemented with ritualistic practices to comprehensively establish celestial government functions. The ritualistic Confucians collaborate with Taoist priests to accept the grievances and prayers from faithful believers and assist in local efforts to fight off evil forces and drive away diseases, achieving the effect of a collective healing.

Journal of History and Anthropology