Jiaobei Blocks

Visiting many of the temples and monasteries in Taiwan you are guaranteed to run into someone with Jiaobei blocks, a simple pair of crescent shaped blocks that are used as a sort of divination tool.

On our visit to Longshan Temple we immediately encountered a group of women with the blocks. Grasping them close the whispered to the blocks and then launched them across the floor. Pausing for a moment the women then began a close inspection of the blocks.

The way they land determines your divination.

The blocks are pretty simple, and some historians suggest that the practice and use of Jiaobei blocks originated in China and slowly spread to Taiwan. Essentially you pose a yes or no question to the gods and then the position the blocks land in determines the answer. One block flat and another on on its back? That's a yes. Both blocks land completely erect on the floor? That means you have confused the gods and should ask your question again.

 

It's easy to get wrapped up in the rich culture of Taiwan and everywhere seems to hold an interesting, and sometimes ancient, cultural practice