Army of Guanyin

Guanyin army
Abandoned statues of Guanyin in a parking lot near Hexing Coal Mine in the mountains of Xinyi District.

The goddess Guānyīn 觀音 is one of the most widely revered deities in Taiwan. If you pay attention you’ll see her form almost everywhere, but not so much in the relatively more sanitized and modern parts of Xìnyì District 信義區, Taipei 台北, where I currently reside. Two days ago it was Guanyin’s birthday, ordinarily a great excuse for a loud street party, but I did not notice anything unusual in my daily travels around the district. What a pity. Plenty of westerners complain about the disturbances caused by temple processions, particularly the clanging, dissonant music and zealous use of firecrackers, but I honestly enjoy the raucous atmospheres of places like Tainan 台南 and Changhua 彰化, two cities I have called home for a while. I find Taipei relatively dull and lifeless by comparison—but hey, at least it’s letting me catch up with all the photos I’ve wanted to share over the years.

This particular photograph was shot not far from the entrance to Héxìng Coal Mine 和興炭坑, a minor tourist attraction in the hills behind my new place. There are a bunch of peculiar temples around the mine—and evidently one of them has no more use for dozens of Guanyin statues I found arrayed beneath a canopy in a muddy parking lot next to an old mining building. Long ago I learned that one of the secrets of taking a good picture is to capture lots of the same thing in one frame (mild sarcasm alert) so here you are, an abandoned army of Guanyin!