Originally constructed in 1967, this temple in the Zhongshan District of Taipei is considered relatively new. It is also notably the first temple in Taipei to ban the burning of incense in an effort to reduce air pollution. Despite lacking a historic feel, the temple is very busy and particularly popular with the local people. By some estimates, it is the most visited temple in Northern Taiwan, attracting upwards of 10,000 people a day.
The temple, like many in China and Taiwan, is dedicated to the god Guan Yu. A famous general from the Three Kingdoms Period (184-280), Guan Yu was deified in medieval times and is seen as an ideal model of loyalty and righteousness. He is simultaneously depicted as the god of war, and the patron deity of businessmen and merchants.
Architecturally, the temple is noted for its many elaborate carvings and paintings of dragons. The front hall contains a unique censer with two handles in the shape of flying dragons, and four sides adorned with dragons’ heads facing skyward. In terms of ritual practice, the temple distinguishes itself from others in several ways. For one, offerings on the main altar are always in the form of fresh flowers and tea because the killing or offering of animals is banned by the temple. Free candles are provided to guests and, quite unusually for a house of worship, there is no donation box.
Cover image by Winertai assumed (based on copyright claims), [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)].