Lu Ban was a carpenter long time ago in Chinese history. Aside from being described as smart, skillful, and gentle looking, Lu Ban was also said to be a kind and loyal older person in worn-out clothes and enthusiastic in helping his peers. Because of many of Lu Ban’s contributions, he was deified as Ciao Sheng Sian Shih in China and has been worshiped by people in civil engineering, construction, architecture, and woodware making as the father of their industries.
The original name of Lu Ban, or Ciao Sheng Sian Shih, is Kungshu Ban, where Kungshu is his last name, while Ban the first name. Aside from his courtesy name Yichih, he is referred to as Luban Kung or Chihban Kung. The word Lu in his name came from his birthplace, Lu, a vassal state in the Zhou Dynasty. Lu Ban was born on May 7 (Chinese lunar calendar) of Duke Ding year 3. Lu Ban’s father was Gong Xianxian and mother Wushih. Legend has it that when Lu Ban was born, white cranes gathered around his house, and a pleasant scent spread all over the room for a month nonstop. Because of these phenomena, his neighbors believed that an extraordinary person had just born. Lu Ban didn’t want to go to school until seven years old, which his parents regretted about. When Lu Ban was 15 years old, he went to study with Zixia, and in a few months, he not only acquired all the knowledge but also integrated it well and surpassed his classmates. Afterward, he left his teacher and traveled around the vassal states.
Lu Ban revered the Zhou emperor as the ruler of “the world,” but at that time, the emperor had little power over the vassal states, and many of Lu Ban’s ideas and viewpoints were not useless for that era. Disappointed, Lu Ban withdrew from the court and retreated to a mountain nearby the river at the south of Mountain Tai. One day, Lu Ban met Bao Chih, a famous craft master at that time, and because they got along so well, Lu Ban decided to learn carving and engraving with Bao Chih, and he quickly mastered the skills. By the way, Lu Ban’s wife, Yun Shih, was also a talented craftsperson, and it is said that umbrella was invented by her. With great wisdom and amazing techniques, Lu Ban set up many important measuring instruments for people. It is also said that Lu Ban used bamboo and wood to make birds and eagles that could fly in the sky for three days continuously. Woodworks created by Lu Ban are so fine and sophisticated that they are still praised by people nowadays. Later, Lu Ban went to Chu, another vessel state, and served in the court there. During that period of time, he came up with several inventions, including scaling ladders, tug of war, and several weapons for Chu.
The ruler invented by Lu Ban used birth, aging, illness, death, and suffering to name each section, and each section is 1.25 inch. Whenever he built a house, he always avoided death and suffering these two sections, and this approach was passed down from generation to generation. This ruler invented by Lu Ban is called Luban ruler.
A “Principal Hakka Culture Development Area” in Taichung City, Dongshih boasts Taiwan’s biggest traditional Taiwan Hakka Dabu community. 24 of the 34 temples around Taiwan that worship Lu Ban as their patron god have stemmed from Dongshih (with three of the other nine as offshoots from Shandong in China, and the remaining six established from “divine inspirations”). Located in the Dongshih Hakka community in Taichung City, “Ciao Sheng Sian Shih Temple” is the foundation of Taiwan’s Lu Ban patron god worship.
In the 40th year of Emperor Qianlong as the monarch (1775 ACE), Hakka forebears established the original temple with the god’s sacred ensign by decree. Then, in the 13th year of Emperor Daoguang’s reign (1833 ACE), because of the collected efforts of Liu Zhang-zhi who had been a Gongsheng (or a Senior Licentiate of the Imperial Examination) and a number of a distinguished family from Tuniu Village, Shigang, as well as Dongshih’s Yang Fang-ling who had been a Jiansheng (or a Student of the Imperial Court), and local gentries such as Yang Ji-reng and Guo Chuen-rong among others, the temple was rebuilt on the location of the old craftsmen’s hall and completed in the winter of the same year.
When the reconstruction was completed, Governor Liu Zhang-zhi reported to the throne in Beijing, and in return Daoguang Emperor bestowed on the temple the “Tablet of Marquis of Northgate, Censor Lu, Ciao Sheng Sian Shih” to the locals’ great pride. The worship of Lu Ban here has been more than 240 years, and the constructions of the temple have also been closely related to the development of Dongshih, together creating a unique endemic “Craftsman Town Culture”. A local masterpiece, the plaque “Ingenious Craftsmanship” has been in the temple since the time of Xianfeng Emperor. The most spectacular of all is that all the walls have been made out of stonework depicting the history of Hakka Dongshih, as well as scenes of her forestry, carpentry and woodwork, camphor oil extraction among others. The life of Hakka forebears seems to walk out of every wall, which is not only precious works of art, but also an education and a great window to our life in the past.
The “2018 Taichung Ciao Sheng Sian Shih Culture Festival” endorses “Cultural and Creative Industries”, combining “Religion”, “Culture”, “Industries”, “Tourism” with “Education” with the core values that include “Promoting the Spirit of Lu Ban”, “Elevating Vocational Education”, “Supporting Economic Development”, and “Preserving Traditional Culture”. By inviting all the temples in Taiwan, as well as one in Vietnam, which have sprouted from our ancient Ciao Sheng Sian Shih Temple back to Dongshih, we celebrate the living memories of our forebears, raising our festival to a national fete, making the Dongshih Hakka community the capital of craftsmanship in Taiwan. The cultural festival animates the industrial development of our Hakka community, encourages tourism, arouses the local Hakka cultural identity, and brings vibrancy and charisma to the beautiful and romantic Provincial Highway Three.
The Dongshih area is commonly referred to as “Dongshih Jiao (or Dongshih Corner)”, which includes four present-day Taichung City Districts, Dongshih, Shigang, Xinshe and Heping. Situated at either side of the upper Dajia River, covered with thick virgin forests, evergreens, thistles and thorns, Dongshih used to be the territory of aboriginal Atayal and Pazeh people.
During Qing Dynasty, camphor was in huge demand for the construction of navy fleets. At the time, Taiwan had plenty of endemic camphor forests. The Qing government established own-by-government-run-by-private “Jun Gong Liao (or Navy Merchant Craftsman Towns)”, assigning a chief navy merchant craftsman to recruit his own private artisan team for one settlement, collect timber, and produce materials for the government’s shipbuilding. Before the 26th year of Emperor Qianlong as the monarch (1761 ACE), Dongshih Corner is beyond Tu Niu Gou (or Dirt Bull Ditch, the demarcation line between the Chinese settlements and the aboriginal territories) where the Chinese were forbidden to venture beyond. In the 35th year of Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1770 ACE), Chief Navy Merchant Craftsman Zheng Cheng-Feng took almost a hundred sub-craftsmen into Dongshih Corner, built a craftsman town with over 30 straw huts to gather camphor for navy shipbuilding. This was the turning point of Dongshih’s development.
According to “The Lahodoboo Settlement Archive”, in the 40th year of Emperor Qianlong as the monarch (1775 ACE), navy merchant craftsmen gathered at the location of present-day Ciao Sheng Sian Shih Temple and built a craftsman’s hall. This area, originating merely as a forestry station, has become a huge settlement. The disposition of rich forestry resources, long work hours, and the danger that the craftsmen faced prompted the necessity of religious inclination. Therefore, Hakka forebears went back to the continent and returned with the sacred ensign and sacraments of Ciao Sheng Sian Shih (Lord Lu Ban) to the Dongshih Craftsman’s Hall. Whenever the incense was burned, it seemed that the god had answered that perils often dispersed. As a result, the temple was founded on Jiangliao (lit. Craftsman’s Hall) Lane in Dongshih. The establishment of the temple symbolized safety and elevated the social importance of navy merchant craftsmanship.
In the 50th year of Emperor Qianlong as the monarch (1785 ACE), Hakka forebears such as Liu Qi-dong gathered hundreds of craftsmen to build a town for woodwork. Since then, Dongshih Corner is known as “Jiangliao (or Craftsman’s Hall)” or “Jiangjiao (or Craftsman’s Foot). “Jiang” refers to the carpenter who has been collecting wood resources, and “liao” means the straw hut where the carpenters have lived. As more and more migrants moved in the plantation, naturally a big settlement took shape. A market street appeared and it was later referred to as “The Barracks under the Craftsman’s Hall”.
During the time of Emperor Jiaqing and Emperor Daoguang (1796-1850 ACE), the Dongshih area was very prosperous, and the worship of Ciao Sheng Sian Shih had spread. Because of these historical conditions, the Craftsman’s Hall became the local government’s “Bulletin Board”. In the 13th year of Emperor Guangxu’s reign (1887 ACE), Dongshih Bureau of Pacification and Settlement was established in Ciao Sheng Sian Shih Temple. Since then, the temple has risen from a religious institution to a local administration center which the local residents referred to as “Gongguan (or Civic Hall)”. During the Japanese era, because there was no school in Dongshih, the local government was known to have borrowed the temple premises for public education facilities.
Since the 40th year of Emperor Qianlong (1775 ACE) when the worship of Ciao Sheng Sian Shih’s sacred ensign by divine decree began, it has been 244 years. As time goes by, memories of Dongshih’s development have left marks and evidence in the temple. The footprints of local societies have been vividly interlocked. Beside the temple, the navy merchant craftsman community has been well-preserved. This temple has been the center of Dongshih’s governance and commerce, as well as religion, rituals and ceremonies.
1. Cheng Ying-yi 2014 〈Motley Sierra: The Dongshih Corner “Hakka” Community Interaction and the Commerce of Aboriginal Produce During the Qing Dynasty (1700-1860)〉 Research Projects on Hakka Studies Funded by Hakka Affairs Council.
2. Chen Gwo-dong 1995 〈“Chief Navy Merchant Craftsman” and the Forestry Issues in Taiwan under Qing Rule (1683-1875)〉 Academia Sinica Research Center for Humanities and Social Sciences Journal of Social Sciences and Philosophy. Volume No. 7, Issue. No. 1
3. Lee Chi-lin 2005 〈The Religion of Taiwan Navy Merchant Craftsmen During Qing Dynasty〉 National Chi Nan University Journal of History Studies. Issue No. 8. July 2005
Take the high speed rail to Taichung Station and then take bus No. 153 to Dongshih Terminal. Get off the bus and turn left to Chungshan Road. Walk alone Chungshan Road and you will see Dongshih Hakka Cultural Park.
Taking Bus No. 153 (Kukan Shinkansen): The primary route runs between Taichung Station of the high speed rail and Kukan, while the secondary route runs between the New City Hall and Kukan. The fastest way to get to the concert is to take bus “Region 153,” which takes National Highway No. 1 and 4 from Taichung Station of the high speed rail and Hsinsheng Village (Dongshih High School). For passengers using the e-pass, they can enjoy the first ten kilometers free.
※Take Taiwan Railway to Fengyuan Train Station
Next, you can take Fengyuan Bus 90, 90 extension, 206, 208, or 298 (to Dongshih) at Fengyuan Train Station. Get off the bus at Dongshih Bus Terminal and make a right turn to Chungshan Road. Walk straight for about 3 minutes and you will see Dongshih Hakka Cultural Park.
※Take Taiwan Railway to Taichung Train Station
(1) Next, you can take Fengyuan Bus 207, 271, 276, or 277 (to Dongshih) at Taichung Train Station to Dongshih Bus Terminal. Get off the bus and make a right turn to Chungshan Road. Walk straight for about 3 minutes and you will see Dongshih Hakka Cultural Park.
(2) Or you can take Bus 850 at Taichung Train Station and get off the bus at Dongshih Riverside Park. Then you can either take the shuttle bus or walk to Dongshih Hakka Cultural Park.
Passengers using EasyCard, iPass, or icash 2.0 to pay for their city bus fare can enjoy the first 10 km free.
Exit from No. 1 National Freeway Taichung System Interchange to take National Freeway No. 4 at Fengyuan freeway terminal. Turn left to take No. 3 Provincial Highway (to Dongshi City) followed by Dongshi Bridge. Take Fengshi Road and then turn to Zhongshan Road. Drive along Zhongshan Road to get to the Park.
Parking Lot (P): Dongshi Hakka Culture Park has a capacity about 93 spaces. Dongshi General Multistory Building Garage has a capacity about 307 spaces. The Riverside Park has a capacity about 500 spaces (free). It is recommended to park the car at the parking lot of Riverside Park and then take the shuttle bus to the event site.