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Introduction of The Wen-Wu Temple by Sun Moon Lake

The Wen-Wu Temple by Sun Moon Lake locates in the Yuchih township of Nantou county and situates by the picturesque-landscape Sun Moon Lake.



People said: “The beauty of Taiwan is in Nantou”, so the pearl of Nantou county is the Sun Moon Lake. The eight-hundred-hectare lake with vast expanse is surrounded by mountains. This scene reflects on water and brings a fully green sight. The brilliant rising sun and charming sunset glow appear in the day time, the tender moonlight shines in the night time. Accompanied by the fascinating mountains and the affectionate green water, the sunlight and moonlight here are different from other sights. Flowers bloom on Sun Moon Lake’s side, various fishes swim under the water, furthermore, visitors and pleasure-boats sail on the surface and the fishermen sing their songs. People will not only relax themselves by visiting the Sun Moon Lake, but also enjoy the magnificent landscape and dreamy scenery.
Looking from the Sun Moon Lake, the glorious and extensive Wen-Wu temple comes into view.
The Wen-Wu Temple has a long and well established history. There has been two temples in the water area of Sun Moon Lake. One is the “Benefit Temple” of Jihyueh Village (Barawbaw) and another is the “Dragon-Phoenix Temple” of Shuishe Village. Gods of these two temples protect territory and people and are always believed by local people. Even the newly aboriginal Shao tribe also prayed for the divine protection under that early-stage attack of plague. After the epidemic situation gradually subsided, the Shao tribe began to offer sacrifice to gods as well.
During the Japanese-Occupied Period, the waterpower development of the Sun Moon Lake has been planned and the biggest power plant in Asia has been established. They have excavated the tunnel for drawing the water of Jhuoshuei River into the lake. In 1934, the water level of Sun Moon Lake rose and partial land on the lake side submerged as water area. Therefore, the “Benefit Temple” and the “Dragon-Phoenix Temple” had been moved.
According to the discussion of local personalities, they decided to merge the two temples and found an auspicious site on the Northern root of mountain of Sun Moon Lake which is the present site of the temple in order to build the new temple. The building project was begun at the end of 1934 and finished in 1938. The square measure for constructing was 264.458 square maters. The temple consecrates Confucius, Wen Chang Di (God of Scholar),, Guan Gong (Saintly Emperor Guan) and other gods, including many cultural and martial gods, so that it is calld “Wen-Wu Temple” (Cultural and Martial Temple).
In 1969, ecause the amount of pilgrims has increased largely and the hinterland of the temple has become too small and old, the temple therefore is rebuilt. During the period of reconstruction, the highest authority of the government has given high attention and support. During the inspection tour, the President Chiang Kai-Shek has visited the building site personally for seven times. He has informed: “The breadth should be grand and the temple court should be broad. The constructive style should follow the Northern Dynasty with three halls – Front hall, middle hall and back hall.” Besides, many local enthusiastic personalities have raised a budget and finally finished the reconstruction in 1976. The measure of area of the temple is expanded more than 3305 square meters. The Martial Sage Hall offers sacrifices to Guan Gong (Saintly Emperor Guan) and Yuei Fei; Guan Pin, Chou Cang, the city god and(Chenhuangye) the god of earth (Tu Di Gong) are worshipped by side. In the Da Cheng Hall, the Confucius is mainly consecrated and other gods are sacrificed along with the Confucius.
In 1987, the side hostel hall was remodeled as pilgrims receiving hall. It was named “Subsidiary Holy Scene Hotel of Wen Wu Temple” after the rebuilding works has been completed, providing board and lodging services. The Holy Scene Hotel stands erect on the bank of Sun Moon Lake, which is an excellent holiday resort.
On 21st September in 1999, a terrified earthquake has happened, the Fishpond area was closed to the epicenter so that was seriously damaged. The court of Wen Wu Temple has cracked. The front hall has sunk and collapsed, the campanile has toppled down and the structure of middle and back halls were damaged. The subsidiary Holy Scene Hotel has partly collapsed. Although people were disquiet by meeting his unfortunate experience, the board of directors has stayed calm and spared no efforts to reconstruct it. Except loading from the bank, they have also obtained the subsidies from local related organization and the endowments of visitors and believers. During the period of construction, the committee paid much attention to the maintenance of the original features, the integration of new and old materials and the reinforcement of preparedness against earthquake. By working with collective wisdom and concerted efforts, the reconstruction was completed in 2003. The damages have been eliminated and the magnificent manner has revived. This is the current appearance of Wen-Wu Temple.
The layout of Wen-Wu Temple is .upright and foursquare with exact structure, shining in golden color, as if a reduced Forbidden City in Beijing. The Temple has a spectacular main entrance 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. The noble temple with yellow roof tiles and red columns, served by a beautiful and fragrant back garden as its background, its layout scatters is delicate with an ordered structure. All of these make an admirable and respectable atmosphere, which is 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 has 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” is the Green stone. The hip-and-gable roof of this building has double eaves. There are auspicious animals and mascot which 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 complicated and splendid carving “ceiling” of the Prayer Hall 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 special is the auspicious animals on the roof, except to the dragon, phoenix, lion, there is also the elephant. The auspicious animals on ridge are carved delicately and remarkably true to life and worthy to appreciate.
At the second floor of Prayer Hall from the temple court, there is “The Imperial Inscription” on which written “Water and Clouds Hall”. The “Water and Clouds Hall” consecrates the Gods of “Benefit Temple” and “Dragon-Phoenix Temple”, mainly worship WenChang Di, True Lord of Deified judge of life, Emperor of Inspiring and Protecting (Lu Dong Bin) and other gods. 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. Behind the Prayer Hall is the second entry – the Martial Sage Hall.
The hip-and-gable roof of the Martial Sage Hall 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. The “eaves gallery” of the temple of Martial sage was decorated by sixteen “square ceilings” to compose a beautiful but complicated plafond. 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. 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.
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, Chou Zang, the city god and the god of earth. The awe-inspiring bearing of the gods are very impressive, composing 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”. 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 made of vermilion woods. The doors are simple but dignified.
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 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 refined shape. 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 makes such a extraordinary and vigorous place!