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Seeking the Magical Creatures of Taijiang: Quest for Taijiang’s Talismans

In recent years, the Taijiang National Park Headquarters of the National Park Service has been proactively transforming the abundant results of various ecological conservation and humanities research into educational publications suitable for the public to read. For example, in 2013, the publication of Gods in Taijiang: Legends of Deities and Talismans, which was honored as an outstanding work under the “Promotional Publications Category” by the Taiwan Historica of Academia Historica, was highly praised for its rigorous academic spirit and highly readable qualities. The opportunity for publishing this book came about when the Taijiang National Park Headquarters invited Professor Dai Wen-Feng and his team from the Research Center of Tainan Studies, National University of Tainan, to conduct a survey on the intangible cultural assets in the Taijiang area. The team spent two years on research, accumulating impressive and formidable results totaling more than 500 pages. Eventually, the book was co-authored by Professor Dai Wen-Feng and his research assistant, Yang Jia-Chi. the publication of Gods in Taijiang: Legends of Deities and Talismans,which was honored as an outstanding work under the “Promotional Publications Category” by the Taiwan Historica of Academia Historica Due to the unique geographic and historical environment of Taijiang, early settlers developed folk customs and beliefs with distinctly local characteristics in order to survive floods, gales, and other natural disasters. To bring the public closer to the history of settlement and land reclamation in the area of Taijiang, tales of “local deities” and “talismans” make an excellent starting point. What exactly are talismans? Yang explained that “yan sheng wu,” the original term used to denote talismans, referred to objects with the power to suppress and subdue. These objects have the function of guarding villages or homes against evil spirits, and they are often found around temples and settlements. For example, in the Taijiang drainage basin, many talismans were derived from the flooding of the river, and Professor Tai affectionately calls them “magical creatures,” which truly reflects the belief that everything has a spirit. In addition to the publication of the book, the Taijiang National Park Headquarters also organized “The Gods of Taijiang - Special Exhibition on Talismans and Local Beliefs of Taijiang”. In the process of curating the exhibition, the Taijiang National Park Headquarters selected and transformed key excerpts from the book into interactive and creative designs. Once visitors step into the exhibition, they are able to very quickly grasp the concepts conveyed in the book through rich visual content, and learn about the local beliefs and functions of the talismans in repelling evil things. The opportunity for publishing this book came about when the Taijiang National Park Headquarters invited Professor Dai Wen-Feng and his team from the Research Center of Tainan Studies, National University of Tainan, to conduct a survey on the intangible cultural assets in the Taijiang area. In addition to the publication of the book, the Taijiang National Park Headquarters also organized “The Gods of Taijiang - Special Exhibition on Talismans and Local Beliefs of Taijiang” In the process of curating the exhibition, the Taijiang National Park Headquarters selected and transformed key excerpts from the book into interactive and creative designs. Once visitors step into the exhibition, they are able to very quickly grasp the concepts conveyed in the book through rich visual content, and learn about the local beliefs and functions of the talismans in repelling evil things To extend the experience and sense of awe brought about by the book and the exhibition, in November and December 2023, the Taijiang National Park Headquarters organized two consecutive tours entitled “Seeking the Magical Creatures of Taijiang: Quest for Taijiang’s Talismans.” They featured specially selected talismans of Taijiang mentioned in the book, such as ground mounds, the Seven Star Banyan, the Pagoda, the Sword Lion, the Rock Elephant, and the Winnowing Basket. The book aims to help readers learn about these objects created under the intertwined influences of the local environment and history, and to appreciate the unique skills of craftsmen in the past, all of which are meaningful symbols of the local region. Taijiang Yan Sheng Wu--the Rock Elephant To extend the experience and sense of awe brought about by the book and the exhibition, in November and December 2023, the Taijiang National Park Headquarters organized two consecutive tours entitled “Seeking the Magical Creatures of Taijiang: Quest for Taijiang’s Talismans.”
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Yangmingshan National Park
Yangmingshan National Park was officially the third national park established in 1985. The Park is located in northern Taipei City, and easily accessible from downtown.
Shei-pa National Park
Shei-Pa National Park located in the central part of Taiwan around the peaks of Hsuehshan and Dabajian Mountain, with an area of 76,850 hectares. The Park was founded to protect and study this splendid wilderness, maintaining the natural environment and all forms of life it includes.
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Shoushan National Nature Park located in Kaohsiung includes natural terrain and historical sites such as Shoushan, Mt.Banping, Gueishan, Old Zuoying city, and Mt. Qihou.Shoushan Park was the first people promoted Nature Park then later established by the officials.

NP quarterly

Cover Story:Collaboration in Conservation

People often use the term "treasures" to describe the lives and resources existing in the mountains and the seas; however, they do not keep or care for the treasures carefully like they treat precious gemstones. Overconsumption is what humans do to the treasures. With the aim of preventing the treasures from being completely depleted in the near future, the Summer Edition's cover stories will continue the spirit of this year's theme "Grand Perspectives with no Boundaries" by sharing stories about a group of people who are committed to protecting the boundless treasures of the mountains and the seas through transnational, interagency, and intersectoral exchange and collaboration for the concept of conservation to prevail in different corners of the world. Cover Story I took the "2023 International Conservation Symposium" as a starting point to explore how international exchanges can create more opportunities for conservation practices, and share information about the world's largest online collaborative ecological database platform "iNaturalist", and "eBird", an online bird database with 300,000 users worldwide. Through experiences shared by national park staff and volunteers in using the online resources, we can understand how citizen scientist platforms have helped national parks more comprehensively grasp the increase/decrease and distribution changes of species. When entering Cover Story II, we will follow researchers' footsteps to witness how digital monitoring facilitates the development of ecological, coastal, and geological conservation research through stories related to the monitoring of Formosan black bear, coasts in Kinmen, Datun volcano group, and other research fields.
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June 2024

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