Floating and “Flying”Boats of the Dead and why dogs stand guard at the entrance of cemeteries or the Underworld

The Jomon people had special burials for their dogs as well as a practice of burying their dogs under their houses (see Did the Jomon people keep any pets?).

The Jomon practice resembles customs found in parts of Europe, including Britain, Sweden and Scandinavia, where a completely black dog would be buried alive on the north side of the grounds of a newly built church, creating a guardian spirit, the Church Grim, in order to protect the church from the devil. In Catalan myth, Dip is an evil, black, hairy dog lame in one leg, and an emissary of the Devil, who sucks people’s blood.

The Egyptians also had a concept of a solar funerary boat of Re, and revered and mummified their dogs by the millions, worshipped Anubis who was linked to the ‘Dog-Star’ Sirius. The Sumerian goddess BAU was dog-headed, like Pangu,  in one version of the Chinese creation myth. Like Cerberus, the Greek three-headed hellhound; the Yorkshire Barguest black ghosthound that preys on travelers; Black Shuck, the Doom Dog said to roam the Norfolk, Essex and Suffolk coastline; or the Welsh death portent – Cŵn Annwn, Hound of the Wild Hunt or Gwyllgi ‘Hound of Destiny’ that haunted lonely roads, the Siberians, Mongols and Altaic peoples also possessed shamanic concepts of dogs guarding the entrance to the land of the dead or the realm of the Underworld.

Guardian hounds occur widely in shamanic Otherworldly lore. The Altaic shaman encounters a dog that guards the underworld realm of Erlik Khan. When the Yukaghir shaman follows the road to the kingdom of shadows, he finds an old woman’s house guarded by a barking dog. In Koryak shamanism the entrance to the land of the dead is guarded by dogs. A dog with bared teeth guards the entrance to the undersea land of Takakapsaluk, Mother of the Sea Beasts, in Eskimo shamanism [1]. The custom of burying a dog and the skin of a favourite reindeer with a dead man was still current among Ugrian people of Siberia earlier this century.– Black Dogs: Guardians of the Corpse Way

The funerary concepts of guardian dogs (statues) to cemeteries, early dog-headed deities (pictured in Central Asian and East Asian tomb murals and art) were related to and at some point became conflated with the idea of terrible plague-spewing deities/demons of a Watery Underworld. The dog is the symbol of the Taiwanese Temple of 18 Deities cult.

What the Finno-Ugrian Khanty-Mansi, many tribes of Southeast Asia and China, the Taiwanese, Koreans, Tibetans and Japanese — have in common are their Boat of the Underworld and boat expulsion rituals. According to Demon Hordes and Burning Boats: The Cult of Marshal Wen in Late Imperial by Paul R. Katz, boat expulsion/sending off rituals were practised in Zhejiang, Fujian, Jiangsu, Szechuan, Yunnan as well as Korea, Tibet, and SEA). Taoist believers in China or the Chinese diaspora possess a funeral tradition that either burned or floated paper boats to send their dead off into the Underworld. The  “zang li, or funeral, included the folding of small squares, of silver, and slightly larger squares, of yellow, paper into xi bo, a boat like shape, to represent ancient money. In ancient times pure gold was cast in such a shape and used as currency” (source: A Chinese Funeral by Lee A. Wood. Once a year, during the Hungry Ghost Festival when the Gates of Hell are believed to be opened and dead ancestors return and hungry ghosts walk the earth, food offerings and the burning of or floating into water of paper  boats and lanterns are also carried out(see How to Celebrate the Hungry Ghost Festival by Louise Holyoak). Another tradition called shoryo okuri, the spirits are usually sent back on the 15th or 16th and hemp stalks are lit and in some places are set out on small boats with offerings to float down rivers or out to sea. People chant “Obon spirits, go away on this boat,” and send them off carefully.

These rituals still practised today, have their counterpart in the Japanese Bon festival (e.g. Gozan no okuribi or Daimonji Festival when the spirits of ancestors return home, on the first day of Bon, the dead are said to find their way back their families by the light of burning straw (mukaebi , or “welcoming fire”). On the last day, straw is burned again (okuribi or “send-off fire”) to send the dead off to the spirit world or the land of the dead. Families may hang chochin lanterns painted with the family crest to guide the spirits, while in other places, the related toro nagashi is practised where paper lanterns are floated to guide ghosts to their old homes and help them return to the spirit world. The earliest boat-shaped wooden coffins are known from the Yayoi period (see ” Japan’s Oldest Boat-Shaped Wooden Coffin Found / 名古屋、日本最古の舟形木棺発見 弥生時代中期か“) and boat-shaped coffins in wood or stone are common during the Kofun Period (see 大和政権の威光 4世紀前半に新潟に and Yomiuri photo and image below).

5th c. boat-shaped ‘sekkan’ stone coffin from the Tsuji Kofun, Yamaga-city, Kumamoto Prefecture (source: 熊本県立装飾古墳館)

Ceremonial funerary boat clay haniwa, Takarazuka No. 1 Kofun tomb (Takarazuka-cho, Matsusaka-shi, Mie-ken, Hikari-cho)

Equally well-known is Japanese tradition of Sharabune Okuri (Ship Send-Off) practice of sending off the spirits in a boat off to sea, a custom passed down in the Mita and Urago areas on Oki-Nishinoshima Island in Shimane Prefecture. Sharabune literally means “a boat for the spirit of the dead.” This tradition is unique to Nishinoshima and is the highlight of the Obon festival every year. In olden times, each family built a boat for the event, but since the Meiji era, larger communal boats have  been built instead. Early in the morning on August 16, children load the boats with gifts for the spirits of their deceased ancestors; then tow the boats out to sea, singing the song of Obon to send off the spirits.

Sharabune:  constructed of straw and bamboo, the boats are colorfully decorated with strips of colored paper, on which prayers such as “Namu Amidabutsu (meaning “Homage to Amida Buddha) are written (Source: Nippon-Kichi “Shara-bune” See more photos.

Another custom is the floating dolls on straw (and sometimes in other receptacles) disease away into the river. Called Nagashi-bina, this custom involving the dispelling impurities and misfortunes by floating dolls away on water, used to take place all over Japan, but the practice has died out in most areas, surviving only in Tottori-shi and Mochigase-cho in Tottori Prefecture. In this rite (said to be in adoption of Tang dynasty’s Qing Ming customs from the Nara period), dry straw is woven into a raft or boat, which carries a pair of male and female dolls to be cast adrift in the river (see Nagashi-bina (JNTO article) and photos here and here).

Although this rite is attributed to the adoption of Tang dynasty’s Qing Ming customs during the Nara period, other scholars and researchers give a more ancient provenance and widespread practice (possibly of Finno-Ugric origin)  of the funerary boat custom:

Royal Lords cult: The cult of Royal Lords reminds many features of the 18 deities’ cult; especially interesting is the rite of floating and burning boats. The Royal Lords cult involves the performance of plague expulsion festivals, which include sending off a “plague boat”—small wooden boat—which represents the community’s accumulated afflictions. I saw exactly such kind of wooden boat in the underground chamber of the Temple of 18 Deities during my fieldwork.

According to Katz (2003: 158), worshipers in southern China and Taiwan have used the title “Royal Lord(s)” to refer to a wide range of spirits, including plague-spreading deities. Such cults developed in south China in the 10th century. Most popular deity among them is Marshal Wen (Wen Yuanshuai), who is worshiped in southern Fujian and Taiwan as Lord Chi (Chi Wangye). Marshal Wen originally was a snake-demon who spread diseases by spitting out poisonous vapours. The connected Chinese images of plague-spreading deities and a boat remind to the plot of a Khanty (Syberia) myth “Holy Legend about the Desirable Knight—Merchant of the Low World, Merchant of the Upper World” (1990 no. 30: 105–125), which describes a floating caravan of boats on the Ob river with diseases-spreading deities on them. The caravan brought epidemic diseases and mass deaths to many cities on the Ob banks and belonged to the underworld, which believed to be situated on the North Lower Ob and was a kingdom of the Lord of Diseases and Death.

Katz (2003: 167) informs that since the 10th century, throughout south China, boat expulsion rites varied from site to site; some communities burned their boats, while others floated them away. He also says that similar boat expulsion rites were found throughout Asia in places such as Korea and Tibet, as well as parts of Southeast Asia (Katz 2003a). In 18th century, the ritual changed—the tradition of floating wooden boats in Taiwan was replaced by burning of paper or bamboo boats. Katz (2003: 169) adduces the fragments from the earliest Taiwan gazetteers of 1717 and 1720, which gives such explanation of the changing of the ritual:
…The Royal Lords boat was originally made of wood and floated out to sea, but this posed a threat to other communities along the coast who would have had to perform offering rituals should the boat land on their shores. As a result, more recent plague boats were built using paper and bamboo, and were burned instead of floated away.
According to Katz (2003), in early 20th century, the Royal Lords boat had become an auspicious symbol and after that, people no longer fear the Royal Lords but are willing to erect temples for them. The transformation of the Royal Lords from malevolent plague deities to protective deities was very common for many cults throughout China. All this suggests that the wooden boat in the underground chamber of the Temple of 18 Deities somehow has remained since the 18th century.

Source: Extracts from Common symbols in Eurasia-Pacific unconscious cultural heritage: A case study of the Taiwanese 18 deities cult by Igor Sitnikov, IJAPS, Vol. 7, No. 1 (January 2011)

One of the many Tanum petroglyphs depicting Scandinavian boats of the Hjortspring boat type carrying around a dozen passengers. Source: Wikipedia

The above mentioned Ob-Ugric Khanty-Mansi and Taiwanese boat funerary rituals also call to mind the Norse Volga Viking ship and megalithic stone ship setting burials and related solar barges of the Bronze Age and of Egypt. Scandinavian Bronze Age (1800 to 500 BCE) and Iron Age people were sophisticated craftsmen and skilful travelers by water and their funerary boat rituals reflected this. The many early Egyptian goddesses who are related as sun deities and the later gods Ra and Horus depicted as riding in a solar barge. In Egyptian myths of the afterlife, Ra rides a solar boat in an underground channel from west to east every night—in the form of the evening sun, Ra-Atum—and he was thought to sail through the afterlife in one boat to battle gods and beasts until he rose as the morning sun, Ra-Horakhty, to sail his day boat across the sky see Ancient solar boats unearthed at Pyramids (NatGeo) and Ancient Egypt: Solar Ships and Funerary Boats.

The Khufu solar barge excavated from a boat pit around the Great Pyramid of Giza(reconstructed model in photo above – source: Wikipedia) was a ritual vessel that showed signs of having been used in water, so that it is thought that the ship was either a funerary “barge” used to carry the king’s embalmed body from Memphis to Giza, or that Khufu himself may have used it as a “pilgrimage ship” to visit holy places and that it was then buried for him to use in the afterlife.  The practice is known to have started as far back as the 1st dynasty kings (see 5,000-year-old wooden used by the pharaohs is discovered by French archaeologists Daily Mail, 25 July 2012).

In the Chinese folklore of the Eight Immortals‘ story of Ch’ao Tu, the watchman:

“T’ieh-kuai walked into a fiery furnace and bade Ch’ao follow. The latter, being afraid of imitating an act evidently associated with the supernatural world of evil spirits, refused to do so. T’ieh-kuai then told Ch’ao to step on to a leaf floating on the surface of the river, saying that it was a boat that would bear him across safely. Again the watchman refused, whereupon T’ieh-kuai, remarking that the cares of this world were evidently too weighty for him to be able to ascend to immortality, stepped on to the leaf himself and vanished…”

More about Underworld boats and dog worship in connection with the Taiwanese Temple of 18 Deities is to be found in the extract below taken from Igor Sitinov’s “Common Patterns of Cultural Heritage in Asia Pacific“, chap II

the stable mythological elements which I found in “Temple of 18 Deities” cult and which have traces in mythologies all over Eurasia could be a product of regular trade contacts among peoples along prehistory trade routs web, which long time ago connected Eurasia by rivers and seashores, creating and supporting prehistory cultural unity from Scandinavia and British Islands in the West to Taiwan and Japan in the East; from Kamchatka in the North to New Guinea in the South”

[Magic Ship Image and Ancient Trade Routes] One of the most repeated mythological symbols which is connected with reality of seafaring and is spread all over Eurasia is the symbol of magic ship or boat. The magic ship Skithblathir of Germanic mythology reminds the Greek Argo, Flying Ship of Russian fairy tales, and the Flying Canoe of Trobrianders. The fact that the Norse god Freyr was the god of fertility and prosperity and had such kind of magic ship gives an idea that he could be a god of sea nomads, who could have the cultural phenomenon similar to Trobrianders’ ‘Kula’. Freyr’s father image 113 supports this idea and suggests that the similar cult could exist among population before Freyr believers. The father of Freyr, Njord, was the Norse god of sea, seafaring, wind, fishing, wealth, and crop fertility.

One of the most stable elements in the Temple of 18 Deities cult is the symbol of a dog. Analyzing the origin of that symbol I found numerous traces of the former dog worshiping cult in mythology, fairy tales, and superstitions of many different peoples all over Eurasia. The geographical area of the former dog’s worshiping cults distribution is spread all over Eurasia with the most western point in the British Isles and the most eastern point in Taiwan; as well as from shamanism in Alaska and Siberian Kamchatka in the north to New Guinea and Australia in the south.

[The parallel between shipwreck records in Taiwan and the Trobrianders shipwreck mythology suggests that the shipwreck symbol in the legends of Taiwanese 18 deities’ cult has connections with the shipwreck mythology of sea nomadic peoples, who passed by and settled in Taiwan shores. Malinowsky (1922) also explains the shipwreck mythology origin as reflection of environment reality. ..

[Flying + Shamanism] One of the stories (Malinowsky 1922, 324) describes an old magician Kasabwaybwayreta who was too much successful in Kula practice. It makes his younger family members – sons and grandsons – be jealous and angry with him. In result his son left him in the faraway island alone. After spending long time in that faraway island Kasabwaybwayreta traveling on the belt of Orion (three central stars) reaches the busa tree. He charmed the tree and it arose up into the skies. He sat on that tree, later he charmed the tree to come down to the ground. The story is similar to many Siberian peoples’ myths describing the human transformation into shaman.
Otherworld + Dogs] Kasabwaybwayreta went underground and remained there for a long time. At last the dogs came and dug him out. [Evil Spirit + Epidemic Disease] He appeared again on the earth surface and became a tauva’u, evil spirit, who hits human beings. Trobrianders believe that the tauva’u cause all epidemic diseases. ..The story reminds also the southern China image of “Royal Lord(s)” which refers to a wide range of spirits, including laguespreading deities. It is visible a parallel with Chinese tradition of the ghosts, the dead spirits of people who died with no children to worship them, or far from home where no one knew them. The dogs function in this story is the revitalization of the abandoned powerful spirit…]

The dog symbol in mythologies of many various peoples all over Eurasia is connected to another stable religious element – an idea of the life after death and underworld. Despite the location of underworld differs in different cultural traditions (in some mythologies it is located under ground, in others under the water) the dog’s image is equally close  connected with it. Dog’s image as a guardian of the underworld is very common for mythologies all over Eurasia. The underworld conception origin also should be dated by Paleolithic epoch, because of its stability occurring spreading everywhere .

The dog is the oldest domestic animal; its traces were found already in the Paleolithic period. Dog’s cult was common among hunting peoples. Dogs were used in the hunting and this may have been the origin of their symbolic link with death. Paleolithic hunting religious ideas should be common all over the world, because all the societies passed this faze of evolution in their history.

Early Neolithic sea nomadic hunters had dogs on their boats, which could serve them in many different ways. The dog sacrificing motif of the 18 deities myth reminds funereal rituals with dog killing to serve as spirit-guardians, which were probably wide spread all over Eurasia in Neolithic, Bronze and early Iron ages. Celtic religion rite involved foretelling the future by chewing on the flesh of dogs. It seems that during the Neolithic revolution former hunting dog’s cult meaning was preserved, but transformed to serve for the excarnation rituals. The lack of known burials in the European Iron Age and the small fragments of bones found around their settlement sites have been explained by some archaeologists as an indicator of widespread excarnation. If excarnation was part of the death rites, then it may have been part of everyday life to see dogs gnawing on human corpses, reducing most of the bones to small fragments in the process.

The Han literati name for Taiwan as the “Island of Dogs” corresponds to such place names in Taiwan as Ta-kou-yu (打狗嶼), which can be translated as the “Islet, Where They Beat Dogs” and Ta-kou (打狗) for the former name of nowadays Kaohsiung. These place names could reflect the tradition of ritual dog sacrifices among plain aborigines in the period of earliest Chinese immigration. The special study of the Taiwan toponyms probably could give some more information to verify this hypothesis. Using dogs in funeral rituals tradition probably came from the early Neolithic sea nomadic hunters, whose descendants on Taiwan could practice similar rituals during long period before the first wave of Chinese immigration.

The 18 deities myth’s dog on the boat image could be understood as the transformation of the Paleolithic dog’s cult tradition. The possible reason why hunting Taiwanese aboriginal dog’s cult survived from the Paleolithic epoch is its similarity to the first immigrants’ waves of the sea nomadic hunters cults. Probably in that phase the water image was added to the former combination of underworld and a dog. From the same period probably came image of a boat as another symbolic link with the world after death.
The 18 deities cult three symbols – dog, underworld and water – combination probably originates from the epoch of the first transportation revolution – and is connected with invention of a boat. People had developed a means of traveling on water even before they had domesticated the horse. The origin of the boat is one of history’s great mysteries. The oldest boats to be found by archaeological excavation are log boats from around 9,000-7,000 years ago. It is interesting that both Eskimo shamanism, British folklore describing the black dog, and Taiwanese 18 deities cult belongs to peoples, whose main occupation was close connected with a sea, and boats. Probably the three symbols combination was created by the first sea hunters’ nomadic societies about 9,000 years ago.

Note: On origins:

“Gemalan is exactly the area of my interest: the Temple of 18 Deities is situated there. Gemalan is a Chinese place name, local people used to call the area as Kavalan. The Qing dynasty included Gemalan into its realm in 1810. In that time this north eastern coastal region was inhabited by three different groups of people: migrants from mainland who came there in 1795; the “cooked” savages who had migrated in from central Taiwan in 1804; and local “converted raw savages” (Chen 2001, 28-29). The information about last group conversion is most interesting. The Qing government distinguished between “raw” and “cooked” savages. The terms were used not only for Taiwan, but also for the Miao and Yao people in mainland south China and for the Li people on Hainan Island. The difference between these two groups referred to the level of those groups ‘conversion’ or assimilation by Chinese culture.

Qing records inform that at Gemalan the savages were settled in thirty-six villages. Two passages summaries the impressions of Chinese shipwreck victims in this area. Someone with the name Wan Zhengse was shipwrecked there in 1683. His impression from the first glance seems to be too much fantastic. He describes local people as cannibalistic beings, who had ugly snake-like heads and who could fly. According to his story Wan met with several hundred of these snake-headed creatures who flew at him. …The story of Wan surprisingly exactly corresponds to the Trobrianders (New Guinea area) mythology of shipwrecks and the flying witches, which was studied by Malinowsky (1922). The fact that the shipwreck event was described by Wan in terms of ‘flying witches’ mythological symbolism gives me a reason to suppose that the mythology similar to the Trobrianders one existed in mainland China cost area and was common there still in the end of 17 century..

:::

Extracts from Common symbols in Eurasia-Pacific unconscious cultural heritage: A case study of the Taiwanese 18 deities cult by Igor Sitnikov, IJAPS, Vol. 7, No. 1 (January 2011):

“In this article, I suggest that subliminal Eurasia-Pacific common cultural heritage is hidden under umbrellas of different variants of popular religions and superstitions in different cultural traditions all over EurasiaPacific, and the case of the Taiwanese 18 deities’ cult is an example of such heritage inside Chinese popular religion and folk Buddhism. I also suppose
that the important part of the Taiwanese 18 deities’ cult traces back to the period of the Austronesian speaking peoples’ dispersal in the Asia-Pacific area, where the ideas and artifacts were widely exchanged along the first trade routes, while the sea nomadic peoples were main actors of the exchange process.”

“ANALYSES OF THE 18 DEITIES’ CULT ORIGIN MYTHOLOGY
AND FIELDWORK

The first impulse to start my study of the Temple of 18 Deities (十八王公廟) in northern Taiwan was an intriguing list of several unique details in the temple characteristic:
Uniqueness: First of all, it was a case of a dog worshiping temple.
Dog worship is a rare phenomenon not only in Taiwan, but also all over the world.

Study of Legends as Informative Symbols
First of all, I assumed that there should be connections between those unique features of the cult and the stories of the temple origin. To find the connections, I decided to focus on the cult main symbols, which could help to solve the temple puzzles. My first step to find such symbols was to analyse the texts of those legends. I supposed that the most often repeated symbols which are represented in all four versions of the legend should be the most stable ones. In the beginning, I underlined all symbols, which looked to be informative for the analysis. In the next step, I calculated the most often repeated symbols. Then I classified the symbols according to the degree of their presence in the legend versions. During the process of that classifying, I found that some of symbols represent variants or reinterpretations of the main symbols. As a result, I obtained four categories of the symbols and their variations, which I placed in four lists.

The first is a list of six symbols represented in all four versions of the legend: (1) “crossing the waters”; (2) “boat or ship”; (3) “dog”; (4) “shipwreck”; (5) “dog’s survival”; and (6) “drowned corpses.” The second list is constrained by one symbol and two symbols variations, which are represented in three versions: (7) “number of people on the boat: 17”;  “dog’s self-sacrifice” [reinterpretation of (5)]; “immigrants’ shipwreck” [reinterpretation of (4)]. The third list includes two symbols and four symbols variations represented in two versions of the legend: (8) “burial”; “dog’s burial” [reinterpretation of (5)]; and “dog’s burial with people together” [reinterpretation of (5)]; and (9) “grave”; “time of accident (Qing dynasty)” [reinterpretation of (4)]; “Chinese nationality of the people on the boat” [reinterpretation of (4)]. And the last one is the list of three unique informative symbols variations, which appear only in one of the versions of the legend and concretise the departure and destination points of the wrecked boat as well as a social status of the crew: “from Fuzhou to Putuo Shan” [reinterpretation of (4)]; “from Tangshan (China) to Taiwan” [reinterpretation of (4)]; and “rich Chinese” [reinterpretation of (4)]

Historical Legends
From the interview with the daughter of the temple’s keeper, it became clear that besides temple foundation mythology, there are also oral historical stories which inform that the temple was founded by the local fishermen, members of the Lian (練) family, who were Hakka immigrants from the earlier times and had their village on the shore. The time of Lian family’s
arrival in Taiwan is unknown. But according to the interview (Tso 2008) with the temple keeper, Mr. Lian, it seems to be that the family had the temple for ancestors worshiping in the village before the boat with dead corpses was washed ashore. All the people in this village were Hakka Chinese immigrants, including Lian family relatives. And they got used to worshiping all the ancestors together every time before going out to fishing. But only one group of Lian family buried the 17 drown corpses
with a dog and started to include their tomb worshiping ritual in their annual Hakka sweeping tomb ceremony.

As previously mentioned, to understand the stages of the temple’s cult development, it is necessary to date the legends and symbols origin. Of course, it is impossible to date them exactly, but it seems we could organise them in order from the newest to the oldest ones and place them according to the main stages of Taiwanese and Chinese history. Only one approximate
date, which we have in our disposal and which we can make a fulcrum, is the Qing dynasty period. According to one of the versions of the temple origin legends, it is during this period the boat with dead corpses and a dog arrived at the north Taiwan shore. As Mr. Lian mentioned, “It was not very common (rather rare) to bring a dog on a boat at that time (Tso 2008).” So,
he supposed that the event had dealt with the immigration of the whole village people from mainland to Taiwan.

Legends: In my disposal, there were four variants of the myth, describing the temple origin. Here I cite only one, most detailed version, translated by Jensen, A. (2008):
17 people and a dog were on a boat during the Qing dynasty. There was a sudden storm and all 17 died when the boat was
destroyed. The bodies were washed up to the shore but the dog survived. The dog then died, or killed himself because of
sadness. The people in the village buried the bodies and the dog in the same place

Legends: In my disposal, there were four variants of the myth, describing the temple origin. Here I cite only one, most detailed version, translated by Jensen, A. (2008):
17 people and a dog were on a boat during the Qing dynasty. There was a sudden storm and all 17 died when the boat was
destroyed. The bodies were washed up to the shore but the dog survived. The dog then died, or killed himself because of
sadness. The people in the village buried the bodies and the dog in the same place”…

“Dogs’ statues and grave image: When you approach the temple, a few old women will sell you a set of ritual objects and then bring you to the two huge bronze statues of the dog, which are situated on both sides of the grave, where according to the legend, 17 drowned people and the dog were buried together. The women insist you to touch the dog’s statue and fasten near it one of the ritual objects they just sold. In front of the grave, there is a long rectangular incense burner with the inscription, Eighteen Deities. In front of the rectangular incense burner is a special tray, designed in a way
that worshipers could place cigarettes sacrifice…”

Source: SITNIKOV, Igor “COMMON SYMBOLS IN EURASIA-PACIFIC UNCONSCIOUS CULTURAL HERITAGE: A CASE STUDY OF THE TAIWANESE 18 DEITIES’ CULT” retrieved from http://ijaps.usm.my/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/IgorSitnikov.pdf  IJAPS, Vol. 7, No. 1 (January 2011)

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