Deity of crafts: Ciao Sheng Sian Shih Culture Festival 2019


Ciao Sheng Sian Shih Culture Festival (巧聖仙師文化祭), one of the major Hakka festivals observed in Taiwan, is taking place in Taichung City’s Dongshi District from May 11 to June 16, 2019.

“Ciao Sheng Sian Shih (巧聖仙師)” is a deity worshiped by craftspeople and artisans who was originally known as Lu Ban (魯班) a Chinese carpenter, engineer, and inventor from the Zhou dynasty (c. 1046–256 BC). Legend has it that he invented many tools, including the angle ruler, the saw, the square, the planer, the drill, the shovel, and the siege ladder. Over two thousand years later, his “Lu Ban ruler (魯班尺)” remains an indispensable instrument for the ancient Chinese practice of feng shui (風水). In Chinese folk religion, Lu Ban is revered also as the god of carpentry and masonry.

During Qing dynasty, a group of military vessel builders settled in Dongshi, the location of several indigenous settlements. These builders attempted to access the timber resources of the region, but they often ran into conflict with the tribes and some members even got killed. To enhance their unity and seek inner peace, the contractors established a small temple to worship Lu Ban and pray for safety.

The modern-day festival held since 2016 was established not only to celebrate Lu Ban’s birthday but also to recognize the dedicated spirit of artisans and promote vocational education. A series of exhibitions on wood and stone sculptures and the art of bamboo weaving are taking place at Dongshi Hakka Cultural Park (東勢客家文化園區). A worship ceremony is also taking place at Ciao Sheng Sian Shih Temple (巧聖仙師祖廟), and a parade for Lu Ban traverses the district of Dongshi to pray for local prosperity.

Well worth a visit for those who are interested in craft arts or folk religion, this unique Hakka festival is waiting for more people to discover its fascinating stories. More information can be found at www.ciaosheng.com.