I followed this temple festival family for more than one year. Because I wanted to research the first female Eight Household Generals troupe in Taiwan, I ended up meeting Juan-Yu Ming-Hsin, who came from Vietnam to marry a Taiwanese husband. Her father-in-law only dared to organize a female Eight Household Generals troupe, and violate the old tradition that only men should play the Eight Household Generals, only after the goddess Matsu granted him permission in a dream. The Eight Household Generals play the role of policemen in Taiwanese Daoism. When a procession is carrying the main deity around the temple district, the generals arrest demonic spirits. The roles of the Eight Household Generals largely parallel the roles of personnel in local police stations during the Qing Dynasty.
Juan-Yu Ming-Hsin married into a family whose members make their living performing at temple festivals. Apart from her everyday work in a factory, she also takes part in temple festival activities with her Taiwanese sisters-in-law, and the cultural environment and beliefs are completely different from those she knew in Vietnam. I attended many temple festival processions and activities with them over the course of this year. They often get up at midnight to paint their faces, and then more than twenty adults and children get on a large truck and drive from one temple to the next, or drive from one town or township to the next. This is the life of a family that depends on religious activities for much of its livelihood.
In order to bring peace to the living beings of Taiwan, Juan-Yu Ming-Hsin paints her face as one of the Eight Household Generals, puts on her costume, takes up her instruments of torture, and dances the "demon-subduing" procession steps. Of course she does this mostly to make some income. She hoped I could find a Taiwanese husband for her 18-year-old sister, and I made a pact with her: We wrote on our arms by painted our faces’s dyes that one day we will go to her hometown together (her home is in Vung Tau, which is about two hours from Saigon) and see her family.