CCU_Taiwan and Da Shi Ye
To open a dialogue with local people in Minhsiung Township, where CCU_Taiwan is located, we chose Da Shi Ye, a locally unique belief, as the key to our connection. Da Shi Ye is an essential religious deity in the land and a symbol of quelling the plague and praying for blessings. During the non-epidemic period, hundreds of thousands of tourists flocked to this small town in Chiayi County to participate in the three-day Da Shi Ye Festival, thus showing the extent of the rituals valued by the local people. Therefore, we integrate the image of Da Shi Ye and inherit his spirit with our project to allow the cultural community to have a voice in science.
Who is Da Shi Ye?
Lots of fights and civil commotions happened when our ancestors claimed Minhsiung, Chiayi, Taiwan. Due to those conflicts, many people died terribly on the street and were not given proper burial and ritual after death, thus became religiously called 'wandering ghosts'. Legend has it that in the seventh lunar month, the gates of hell are opened, and the dead souls wander among the living. Failure to do the right thing by the deceased might lead to all kinds of ill fortune; at that moment, some evil spirits bring disease to people. Suddenly, a Ghost King with blue-faced and fangs viciously appeared, flames spouting out from his mouth and smoke emitting above his head. He took the wandering ghosts with him then became a figure known as 'Da Shi Ye'! From then on, devout believers set a paper-pasted statue of Da Shi Ye annually at the Da Shi Ye festival; the statue of Da Shi Ye will be cremated as a symbol of Da Shi Ye taking away all the wandering ghosts and leaving blessing, peace, and prosperity while warding off calamities!
How do we improve inclusivity?
Through the legend, we knew that Da Shi Ye would remove the diseases caused by evil spirits. Superbugs, just like those evil spirits, are causing diseases, too. Our project hopes to eliminate the harm caused by superbugs and promote the correct ways of using antibiotics. In our parent-child picture book, we turn antimicrobial agents into Da Shi Ye and share the story with the elementary school kids. Also, our team drew some pictures and uploaded them on our social media to introduce the culture to the public.
To convey accurate and rich cultural information, we find out the to̍k magazine, an Independently published magazine that introduces the “toxic” local beauty of Taiwan, to know the unknown history and knowledge of the Da Shi Ye Festival.
▲ to̍k(毒) means toxic in Taiwanese.
We realize that most of the rituals are present in Taiwanese, the most common dialect in Taiwan, and these rituals are usually presided over by the elderly, mother tongue is losing. This situation inspires us to translate our picture book into Taiwanese. Thanks to professor Khin-Huann Li, who is actively involved in disseminating and promoting Taiwan philology, he helped us finish the Taiwanese picture book translation. Furthermore, we shoot a series of soap operas to show our project in Taiwanese, and let more people catch up with our idea. Click here to see more detail.