Sunday, Jan 21st

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Man Mo Temple of Sun Moon Lake

C. “Glory of culture and strategy of martial arts. Sacred place and ancient temple” Man Mo Temple of Sun Moon Lake

The Wen Wu Temple situates at the northern mountainside of the Sun Moon Lake. With its back to North and front to South, the temple takes the mountains on its side and brings the lake as its forecourt. Its layout is spectacular with a magnificent scene.
Looking up from the lake, the Wen Wu Temple has a commanding view from a vantage ground with a distinguished awe-inspiring bearing. If looking down from the peak, the position of the Temple is bright and spacious, it has a stable locality with a wide and comfortable form. Obviously, this temple has the beauty of geomantic omen and the convenient and favorable geographical position. The mountain is known for its highly rising peaks and the flowers bloom all the year round. The mountain shape is just like two hands of the temple, surrounding the deep space. The famous lake, with its bluish waves, reflects the sun and the moon, becoming the wide and glorious forecourt of the temple.
The Wen Wu Temple has a spectacular main entrance, the “Gateway and Ceremonial Arch”, and a grand temple court on its back. By walking upward from the temple court, appears the principal construction of the temple. There are three halls, the Prayer Hall, the Martial Sage Hall and DaCheng Hall. Its layout scatters delicately with an ordered structure. The noble temple with yellow roof tiles and red columns, served by a beautiful and fragrant back garden as its background, the atmosphere is admirable and respectable, also intimate.
The integration of southern and northern styles is always the feature of the temple. Valuable and rare materials have been used and its detailed construction and delicate carvings have become the most distinguishing feature among the temples in Taiwan. The main entrance of “Gateway and Ceremonial Arch” is a northern style monumental archway; the material of the “façade” was Taiwan Guanyin stone before the 921 earthquake and has been changed with Green stone after the earthquake. The hip-and-gable roof of this building has double eaves. The “straight ridge” has the legendary animal, Chiwen, on each side. At the end of the “vertical ridge”, the auspicious animals are like “Celestial Basking Shoe” up front. The “stretched eaves” and “brackets” are simply designed but with good taste.
The temple court is a wide and spacious square that many activities and ceremonies are held here, especially the folk activities which are bustling and meaningful. Among these, the most honorable one is the birthday of Guangong. The patriarch of the Shingong Group, Mr. Huo-Shi WU, has donated two stone carving giant lions on the left and right sides of the temple court. There are only three enormous stone carving lions around Taiwan and the two of this temple are the biggest ones.
The Wen Wu Temple was constructed on a layout of “3 entries and 3 halls, two wings and two galleries”. The first entry is the Prayer Hall.
The towering Prayer Hall is the front hall of the temple. There are two campaniles on its left and right sides. The eaves gallery of the Prayer Hall represents numerous gods. The complicated and splendid carving “ceiling” is a special decoration of southern construction, this is very different from the “bracket” of northern construction. The hip-and-gable roof of this building has “northern double eaves”. What deserve to be mentioned is the elephant that appeared among the auspicious animals on the ridge. However, on the representative northern construction, the Forbidden City, the auspicious animals are dragon, phoenix, lion, celestial horse, hippocampus, legendary beast of prey, fish, a legendary beast in ancient time, bull, mythical wild animal, etc., just lacked elephants. The auspicious animals on ridge are delicately carved and worthy to appreciate. “Hanging decoration”, “floral basket” and “sparrow brace” under the eaves have gorgeous colors which bring the feature of southern construction.
Looking at the second floor of Prayer Hall from the temple court, there is “The Imperial Inscription” on which written “Water and Clouds Hall”. Foundation initiating Gods are consecrated in the “Water and Cloud Hall”. These Gods were divinities in “Benefit Temple” and “Dragon-Phoenix Temple” at the end of Qing Dynasty and during the Japanese-Occupied Period. People of this epoch believed that the gods were quite efficacious; therefore, whenever they have had doubts of life, they could ask the gods for an oracle and ask a medical oracle to cure their diseases.
The prayer hall has five doors. On the door planks, the figures of door-gods “Qing Shu Shi” and “Wei Zhi Kong” has been delicately carved, and hand-held items of the old an the young eunuchs. These items symbolize “good luck and happiness”, “wealth and lasting spring time” and “promote to a higher rank of nobility”.
The middle door has a pair of “stone drums”, one of them are donated by an elder of Thao tribe, Prince Mao. There are two small classical and cute kylins donated by Crocoil Limited Company on both sides of the eaves gallery. Two imposing big kylins are offered respectfully by a believer from Banqiao, Mr. Lai Zeng, LAI.
After entering in the Prayer Hall, the ceiling of roof was composed with “round ceiling” and nine “square ceilings”. The colored drawing of the crossbeam was mainly Chinese legend. There are “Dragon-head wood holds” or called “sparrow braces” on the columns.
Walking out from the Prayer Hall, the “coiling Loogn” (an animal in Chinese myth) of the “two dragons snatch a pearl”. This decoration was donated by the President, Mr. Lien Xing WU, of Da Ming Mechanical Limited Company.
Following the dragon steps from the “coiling Loogn” leading to the “platform” and looking up at the temple of Martial sage, the hip-and-gable roof of this building has double eaves. The first under-eave of the double eaves is the northern “brackets of the Forbidden City style” and the second under-eave is the “southern ceiling of numerous gods”. The combination of northern and southern styles brought an ulterior taste.
In front of the hall is “the area at top of hall steps”, which is the important space for sacrifice.
The “eaves gallery” of the temple of Martial sage was decorated by sixteen “square ceilings” to compose a beautiful but complicated plafond. The “Lion pedestal” is under the “ceiling”. The theme of this base included “tiger, leopard, lion and elephant” of southern construction and was added other celestial being and auspicious animals. The subject of the colored pattern on the crossbeam “steps unobstructed” was the “Three Kingdoms”, the story of “Gods of Honour” were also carved delicately and beautifully on it. The “sparrow braces” of the “eaves gallery” was originated from northern design.
The “Dragon-head wood holds” of southern style in the hall are exquisitely carved. There is a great “round ceiling” with a stack of fourteen layers and on its top is the “Dragon with pearl” which are sculptured with precious timber of a Chinese cypress and camphor wood. This composition is the biggest “round ceiling” construction. It is particular about the material and engraving skills of the “shrine”, “golden pillars”, “brackets” and “reticulation”. These elaborated techniques are worthy of appreciation.
The luxurious and august shrine in the hall offers sacrifice to Kuangong and the patriot Yuei Fei. Kuangong has a powerful and solemn look, red face and find whisker with bright and piercing eyes full of righteousness, sitting on the left side. The patriot Yuei Fei is sturdy and sedate; his honest and loyal eyes contain strategies, sitting on the right side. These two martial sages were consecrated together, which brought a remarkable meaning. The following consecrated gods are Guan Ping and Chou Zang. The city god was enshrined in the left niche and the god of earth was enshrined in the right niche.
The awe-inspiring bearing of the gods are very impressive, protecting the territory and the people. It also composed a sublime status of the Martial sage temple with the beautiful, splendid and classic main hall, which is the center of public’s belief.
The third entry is the “DaCheng Hall”. The first comes into sight is the “coiling Loogn” (an animal in Chinese myth) of the “nine dragons rotating a pearl”, and under the “platform” is the cement relief of Confucius’ travel in various states.
The DaCheng Hall has a “tile roof and upturned eaves”, which are different from the “hip-and-gable roof with double eaves” of the Martial sage temple. This hall has three doors open, made of vermilion woods and called “block doors”. There is a pair of copper rings
The mainly consecrated god in the DaCheng hall is Confucius and four saints. Confucius was enshrined in the central shrine and his imitated statue was placed in the national temple of the forbidden city in Beijing. He looks gentle, respectable, dignified and upright, who is a typical character of the eternal epitome of the enlightened teacher. The rebirth saint Yen-Zi and comment sage Zisi are consecrated in the left shrine, the ancestral sage Zengzi and second sage Mencius are consecrated in the right shrine. Seventy two virtuous apprentices and persons of virtue and philosophers in all the past dynasties are engraved on the left and right walls. After entering into the hall, the Confucian model to deny self and observe the proprieties and of the holistic implementation are still concealed within.
This hall is a temple for worship and also a palace for learning doctrines. There are “lots of Confucius” in the temple, which will help students to open their sage and solve their doubts.
The “DaCheng Hall” of the Wen Wu temple is the only Confucius temple that never closes. This symbolizes his pedagogic principles of “no children should be left behind”. In terms of the etiquettes of Confucius temple, people should enter the “Hung gate” first, then enter the “Courtesy gate (Li Men)”. If there is any student who passes the examination and becomes the Number One Scholar, the “Front door” would be established. Therefore, the “Front door” is also called “Door of Top Scholar”. This kind of design implies that on purpose to study the Four Books and Five Classics, learn Confucius’ doctrines, there is no short cut but getting into the “Hung gate”.
The second floor of the “DaCheng hall” is the “Historical image hall of the Wen Wu temple”. The historical photos of the temple are exhibited in the hall. The third floor is a viewing platform which is the best scenic spot to overlook the Sun Moon Lake.
Behind the Wen Wu temple, a garden is established and actually is a trail around the temple. There is a special octagonal pavilion with a “round amassing roof” decorated with a “head of octagonal palankeen”. This delicate pavilion provides a space to take a rest for visitors. People can enjoy the scenery of Sun Moon Lake and the forest bath of camphor wood.
On every occasion of the temple fairs for Kuangong’s and the patriot Yuei Fei’s birthdays, or when students come to the temple and ask Confucius to enlighten their wisdom, the believers come together in crowds with a hubbub of voices, and look at the magnificent construction with reverence and splendid landscape. The Wen Wu temple is a comprehensive expression of belief, culture and tourism. With good fortune of gods and abundant culture, the Wen Wu temple is such a beautiful and vigorous place!