Journal of
Languages and Culture

  • Abbreviation: J. Lang. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6540
  • DOI: 10.5897/JLC
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 132

Full Length Research Paper

A morphological analysis of Joss paper image in Taiwan - A case study of Fu Lu Shou

Ching Yang
  • Ching Yang
  • Department of Graduate School of Industrial Design, National Yunlin University of Science and Technology, Yunlin, Taiwan, Republic of China.
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Tsai-Ching Tsai
  • Tsai-Ching Tsai
  • Hualien Prison, Agency of Corrections, Ministry of Justice, Hualien, Taiwan, Republic of China.
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Ming-Chuen Chuang
  • Ming-Chuen Chuang
  • Institute of Applied Arts, National Chiao Tung University, Hsinchu, Taiwan, Republic of China.
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  •  Received: 27 August 2015
  •  Accepted: 21 November 2015
  •  Published: 29 February 2016


Based on the Fu, Lu and Shou Joss papers, the current study investigated the religious tradition of the Joss paper burning as well as the styling features, purposes, and types of the three-god Joss paper via the examination of previous studies and field work. With the collected Joss papers for different purposes, six samples with the three gods were extracted to decipher the componential principles of the three-god patterns, arrangement of printed characters, and decorative frames. Besides, with the Joss papers for different purposes, the current study compared and analyzed the styling features of the three god images, the complexity-simplicity transformation style and embedded connotation. The results of the current study revealed that the Fu, Lu and Shou Joss paper could be divided into Taiji-jin (that is, Tiangong-jin) for the heaven and gods, Shou-jin for gods and Buddha, and Yi-jin for ancestors or spirits. With differences in personality features and religious expectations, the tree gods differ not only in styling components such as the head, the costume, and objects held in hand, but also in prices, material quality, and worship connotations of Joss paper. In terms of pattern design, the use of density of lines and blocks to highlight the contrast between black and white, as well as the simplification as a result of integration and omission displays the transformation from complexity to simplicity. Taiji-jin and Shou-jin are more obvious in its components and differentiation between each part, and more elaborate and complete in the depiction of lines and blocks. While Yi-jin features the interconnection, integration, and omission of each part, it keeps focuses of the original components and could tell the character features among the three gods.


Key words: Fu, Lu, Shou, Joss paper, pattern, culture, Taiwan.