This article re-examines the nature of ghosts in Taiwan from the perspective of materialization, as an aspect of material religion in general. I start by tracing the spatial separation between people and ghosts in the village of Wannian and then go on to discuss how people conceptualize ghosts in terms of the tripartite souls of the deceased, thus elucidating the way in which ghosts are considered not only as descendant-less, but also as displaced souls. I proceed with a detailed analysis of the ghost shrine, a type of religious architecture that helps to establish both separation and commerce between ghosts and living humans. By analyzing the material composition, name, and rites of ghost shrines, I show how ghosts are conceptualized as asocial and individual beings. This helps to illuminate stories about ghosts in which, motivated by greed, humans cross the spatial boundary to coerce ghosts for selfish reasons.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 190-211
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.