《Territorial leading temple》
Territory refers to the boundary of land and United Territories is an organization for several relevant territories. Originally, it was formed to unite civilian force to maintain local security. This is a unique system that only be found in Tainan.
This security system was initiated due to the Lin Shuangwen Rebellion in 1786 and became stabilized in Jiaquing Emperor’s rule. Dauguang Emperor started the Qingzhuang Lianjia system which was taken as the beginning of United Territories system.
During the Opium War, the removal of Tainan’s soldiers and civilians led to the security problem. So different territories based on their geographical characteristics, emotional attachment and individual interest divided five united territories within the city and many other territories in different sizes. They had become the major defense for Tainan’s security.
After the Opium War, officer Yao Ying worried for the security problem then divided the city into 72 territories and recruit 20 to 40 brave adults and provided them with weapons to protect the city in separate regions. By Daoguang 22 years (1842), there were 82 territories as reported by Yao Ying.
These territories are naturally based on a local temple. On Xianfang third years (1853), Tainan established the Defense Bureau but security was still guarded by local temple’s able-bodies men during peaceful time. On the first year of Tongzhi Emperor, Tai Chao-chuen rebellion started and used up all the soldiers and volunteers, Inspector Hong Yu-sheng decided to strengthen the organization of united territories to protect local security. Many major and minor territories were formed with its regular members to protect and secure its responsible gates and regions.
This united territories system ceased to exist when Taiwan was ceded to Japan after the War of Jiawu on the 20th year of Emperor Guangxu (1894). During Japanese occupation, the united territories system had lost its function, although historical names like Sixth United Territory or Eighth United Territory are still active in Tainan people’s daily life.
As the city becomes more developed and prosperous, the temples of the united territories have been covered by high-rising buildings and folk houses, but they still remain to be the religious center of most civilians. The fusion of new and old, modern and historical has brought more depth to Tainan, though gradually being devoured by modern development. This intense sentiment can be highlighted by capturing the old temples in the united territories.