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Keywords:

  • N45;
  • P14
  • commons;
  • property right;
  • Taiwan;
  • worship association

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.