Taiwan.Kinmen.Travel: Hunting Down Wind Lion Gods in Jincheng Township (风狮爷寻踪)
Date: 16th November 2019, Saturday
Kinmen was the hometown of the Wind Lion Gods (风狮爷), so it was definitely a must to check them out when in Kinmen. I had planned to cycle around Kinmen to check out the stone statues of the Wind Lion Gods before embarking on the trip, so I set out as planned this day.
Why were they called "Wind Lion Gods"? To put it simply:
Their primary function was to protect villages from disasters caused by winds;
In traditional Chinese culture, stone lions were commonly symbolised as guardians to ward off evil;
The statues usually had manhoods carved on them, thus, these male guardians were addressed as "gods" — but some experts claimed that there is a "goddess" among them.
The map below shows the route that I took to find all the Wind Lion Gods around Jincheng Township. The purple route is the actual path that I took and blue segments are suggested paths that I added later because I missed out some places of interest that were along the way.
I started the adventure at 9am, after breakfast, on a bicycle that I borrowed from Backpack Home 497. After leaving the inn, I followed the purple route in an anti-clockwise direction. The first target was at Xiashu (夏墅).
1. Xiashu Wind Lion God (夏墅风狮爷)
Xiashu Wind Lion God looked very similar to Doraemon due to its blue-painted body, white stomach and a golden bell with red ribbon around its neck. However, it sat in the compound of a private estate. I took a photo from outside the compound and continue my journey, not wanting to disturb the residents.
Note: Use "Suggested Route 1" to visit Jian'gong Islet (建功屿). During low tides, one could go onto the island simply by walking across the sea-bed. This phenomenon was also known as the Kinmen-version of "Moses Splits the Sea".
2. Guanlubian Wind Lion God (官路边风狮爷)
Guanlubian Wind Lion God was not easy to find. None of the villagers were around, so I had to rely on Google Map and GPS positioning to locate it. The statue sat beside a hundred-year-old tree behind Guanlubian Village.
3. Kinmen City Wind Lion God 2 (金门城风狮爷二)
It was also not easy to locate Kinmen City Wind Lion God too as it stood behind Huixiang Temple (迴向殿), out of sight from the road. There were actually two Wind Lion Gods with different looks at this spot but my attention was on the larger and newer one. A smaller 600-year-old Wind Lion God stood a short distance away and I missed it completely. What a pity!
Note: Right opposite Huixiang Temple was Mingyi Old Street (明遗老街). And "Suggested Route 2" would cover the North Gate of Old Kinmen City (金门城北门) and Wentai Pagoda (文台宝塔). It would be possible to try the sorghum-fermented eggs (叶氏酒酿蛋) near Wentai Pagoda.
4. Gugang Wind Lion God (古岗风狮爷)
As opposed to the newer Wind Lion Gods observed above, Gugang Wind Lion God was obviously the original statue after being heavily eroded by wind over time. It was moved to its current location besides a road intersection in recent years.
5. Guanli Wind Lion God (官里风狮爷)
Similarly, Guanli Wind Lion God was also painted blue. As a matter of thought, why was it that most of the Wind Lion Gods were painted blue?
6. Oucuo Wind Lion God (欧厝风狮爷)
Unlike other Wind Lion Gods that were located near villages, Oucuo Wind Lion God was situated much further from Oucuo Village and closer to the beach in an isolated spot. The statue had a super-wide mouth probably because it was nearer to the beach where the winds were stronger.
Based on geological categorisation, the above 6 Wind Lion Gods were located in Jincheng Township. The remaining 4 belonged to Jinning Township.
7. Houhu Wind Lion God (后湖风狮爷)
Houhu Wind Lion God was newly-made and identical to its predecessor. I found out after the trip that the older statue was located to the right side of Huiyuan Temple (会元馆).
On the way to the next Wind Lion God at Xiguoshan, I saw the statue below outside Yuanshan Temple (源山宮) by a roadside. I thought this was the next Xiguoshan Wind Lion God that I was looking for but the location was not the same as indicated on Google map. I decided to continue to the marked location to confirm. As it turned out, this was a very new statue that had yet to be named, so I called it Yuanshan Temple Wind Lion God (源山宮风狮爷).
8. Xiguoshan Wind Lion God (昔果山风狮爷)
And I found Xiguoshan Wind Lion God at the location as marked on Google map. With a new coat of paint, the Wind Lion God looked pretty captivating.
Nearby sight: Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor Inc. (金门酒厂). From Xiguoshan to Dongzhou (东洲) for the next Wind Lion God, I passed by the liquor factory and dropped in to take a look and tried its famous 58° sorghum liquor, a local specialty.
9. Dongzhou Wind Lion God (东洲风狮爷)
Dongzhou Wind Lion God was also a newly-made statue but unlike its predecessor that was constructed with clay in 1995, this one was carved from stone.
10. Banglin Wind Lion God (榜林风狮爷)
Banglin Wind Lion God had one thing that was not the same as most of the other Wind Lion Gods that I came across so far — it was not looking straight ahead, but slanted its head in the direction of a nearby road intersection. The villagers believed that it could prevent accidents from happening at the busy cross junction. The statue held a command flag in its hands.
It was already 1:20pm after checking out Banglin Wind Lion God. If it was not because of the butt pain from no cycling for a long time, I would want to continue further to the north and east side of Kinmen. Feeling hungry as well, I decided to head back to Jincheng Town.
The cycling adventure to hunt for Wind Lion Gods bagged a total of 10+1 statues but missed 2 originals. Total distance travelled was 21Km. If I knew that the journey would take just 5 hours, I would have go slower and make detours to Jiangong Islet (建功屿) and Wentai Pagoda (文台宝塔) to try the sorghum-fermented eggs (酒酿蛋).
There were another 4 Wind Lion Gods in Jinning Township: 金门.金宁乡.风狮爷