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The Ancestral Tablets

A box for ancestral tablets.

A box for ancestral tablets. The tablets themselves are small slips of wood in a rack on the back of the main tablet seen through the glass. Thus the inscriptions on the individual tablets may not be read except by opening the box and removing them for examination. Although several styles of ancestral tablets were in use in the village in the 1960s, this style was the commonest. The box of ancestral tablets is usually placed at stage-right of the family altar, with its own incense pot, candles, and flower vases. In northern Taiwan, the cult of the gods is often moved off-center to make room for the ancestral materials. In southern Taiwan, the cult of the gods remains at the center of the altar, despite the asymetry introduced by the ancestral cult at one end.