While visiting the historic gold mining town of Jiufen in Taiwan, the Old Quarters aren’t the only thing worth checking out. Just a short bus ride away is the gold museum which chronicles the town’s rich mining history, and nearby is the Quanji Temple, accessible on foot. Be careful of the local wildlife though:
The 20 minute walk is quite scenic, with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and the coastline.
The temple is home to the largest statue of Guan Gong, the Taoist god of War/Justice, which sits atop the building and can be seen from miles away. The copper statue weighs some 25 tonnes!
Typical Chinese temple architecture – arching roofs topped with phoenixes and dragons, cloud motifs, lots of red.
A separate gazebo area.
Stone murals depicting different scenes of Guan Gong / Guan Di (literally ‘Lord Guan’) – as a scholar, as a brave general, etc.
Taoist gods are usually real life figures who have been deified (is that a word?) ie worshipped as deities, the way Saints are in Catholicism. Guan Yu was an actual historical figure, a general in the early Han dynasty who was respected for his loyalty and sense of justice. As with myths and legends, his conquests were fictionalised over time, especially in the Chinese epic Romance of the Three Kingdoms. He is often portrayed with a long beard and a red face, wielding a giant glaive.
Trivia: Chinese businessmen often have a statue of Guan Yu installed on their premises. The policemen in HK also pray to Guan Gong. Know who else prays to him? The triads. Interesting.
Inside the temple is a small open air courtyard with a dragon fountain.
The small shrine inside with Guan Gong’s statue, surrounded by an elaborate gold tapestry and wooden altar. We offered up some joss sticks for prayers.
View from the upper floor. Colourful motifs and decor !
While waiting for the bus back we met this sassy little girl and her doggo. I felt like it was a good glimpse into the life of everyday residents here, so I took a shot. 🙂
Had a great time at Jiufen; I think it’s a highly recommended spot to visit while in Taiwan so remember to put it on your list!