To inaugurate the twin office buildings in New Taipei's Xinzhuang District (新莊), where the Ministry of Culture has formally relocated to earlier this month, government officials held a traditional blessing ceremony on Jan. 28 to seek prosperity for the nation and its citizens.
As part of the time-honored ceremony, an elaborate dragon sculpture was laid out as an offering in exchange for smooth tidings. The 30-meter-long creature was constructed with 720 kilograms of rice grains, and overlaid with 3,000 gold-coloredcoins for scales.
The practice of handcrafting such rice dragon sculptures dates back to hundreds of years. It originated with the belief that dragon deities rule the earthly grounds, and that they dictate whether fortune or misfortune befalls a certain region. Hence, a dragon made with grains of rice would be offered to appease the higher forces as part of a traditional ground-breaking ceremony.
Vice Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) presided over the inauguration ceremony, along with the heads of eight other government agencies that recently moved into the twin office buildings, including Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台), Minister of Finance Chang Sheng-ford (張盛和), and Minister of Justice Lo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪).
Minister Lung noted that the traditional ceremony is an accumulation of the common memories shared by our ancestors, and artisans such as the rice dragon sculptor remain an integral part of Taiwan's intangible cultural heritage.
The serpentine creation will remain on display at the ground-floor Art Gallery of the Ministry's new office building until Feb. 17, after which the sculpture would be dismantled and distributed to minority and disadvantaged groups as extra provisions.
The 30-meter-long rice dragon sculpture will remain on display at the ground-floor Art Gallery of the Ministry’s new office building until Feb. 17, after which the sculpture would be dismantled and distributed to minority and disadvantaged groups as extra provisions.
The newly inaugurated government office complex in New Taipei’s Xinzhuang District will help to save public funds and boost bureaucratic efficiency. Altogether, the twice buildings will accommodate a total of 13 government agencies — including the Ministry of Culture, the Hakka Affairs Council and the Council of Indigenous People — and roughly 3,500 public servants.