Chris and I and our spouses had a day exploring the museums of Chiayi (very worthwhile especially the lovely little Koji ceramic museum and the fantastic private collection of minerals and fossils at the Stones Data Museum) and then headed out to Santiaolun, a little coastal village in Yunlin County.
What brought us here was a brochure I had been given one day when I visited Zhinan Gong in Muzha. An old volunteer told me about his son, the temple architect, and his work building a new temple in Yunlin. Traditional materials were being used (stone, marble, wood) as well as traditional techniques (no power tools).
The brochure described how 16 shipping containers of stone had been imported for the project, and tons of wood. The rough sketch showed a massive complex, bigger than even Longshan Temple in Lugang. According to the old man, the temple had been under construction for 12 years and was about a year from completion. I wanted to see it.
As we pulled into the parking lot we saw the extent of the temple was indeed massive. But a bit a concrete foundation made us pause. It was the last moment we were underwhelmed.
As soon as we got close we staretd to see the detailled carvings on the pillars. There were no cheap red pillars with cheap paintings. Every pillar was hand carved in high or low relief. And so many pillars. And walls too. All divided into panels with high relief. And the colors on the awnings and trim. Purples and blues and greens such as you never see in Taiwanese temples. At least not so vibrant. If you know anythign about colors you know how easy it is for bright colors to look garish. But this place exudes skill and craftmanship and style in a highly baroque fashion.
Here’s the pillars in the front. They are stone remember, not concrete:
A shot of the front. As you walk up you don’t see the detail at first. Then bam (see above):
Looking at the entrance from the back. Notice the pillars are different from the front. And they are different from the main hall pillars in the back too. You can’t see the low relief so clearlt on these but they are not plain.
Gorgeous high quality koji pottery is everywhere:
The main hall in the back (where the god will eventually go):
Close up of the pillars so you can see the detail:
Detail of a section of wall. All the walls are covered with this kind of work. Must be hundreds of panels:
Guess where this is? The back of the temple. Incredible. The insides of only the best temples have this kind of detailed work:
The only pillars that aren’t elaborately carved are in the main hall around the altar. But look at the rich blue color:
Crappy shot capturing the celing (which is 60 feet up) but shows someof the colors. Love those soft blues:
Side view of mall hall:
Close up. Look at the lovely use of mauve and green (on the lantern like objects hanging) and also the mosiac under the phoenix.
This is my cat balancing on his scratching tree. Kind of cool too, no?