Worship Associations in Taiwan


  • Hui-Wen Koo

    1. National Taiwan University
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    • The author wishes to thank the National Science Council for its financial support. The research assistance from Liang, Hui-ru and the fruitful discussion with Kelly Olds are greatly appreciated. The revision has benefitted greatly from comments by Stephen Morgan, the Editor, and three anonymous referees.


We analyse why Taiwanese families during the Ch'ing Dynasty still held communal assets vested in worship associations (chi ssu kung yeh) even after the division of family assets. Our analysis shows that worship associations benefitted the living as well as the dead. Although the high cost of managing common assets meant the associations were established infrequently, they arose often in a response to clan feuds and served as martial-style corporations for the protection of family property before the twentieth century.