Monday, August 24, 2009

temple without nails


This 169 years old temple built from 1839 to 1842 is the oldest and the most prominent temple in the old days frequented by the Chinese immigrants giving thanks to Ma Zu, the Goddess of the Sea for their safe voyage. Thian Hock Keng Temple is now managed by the rich and powerful Hokkien Clan and it is still visited by local devotees, scholars and tourists. It is located right in the heart of the central business district.

The fascinating part about this temple of southern Chinese architectural style is that the entire structure including the pagoda was assembled without nails. The roof eaves and roof parapets are heavily adorned with dragons and phoenixes which are traditional animals symbolic of auspiciousness. Wu lu or a big gourd on top of the roof of the pagoda on the right side of my sketch symbolizes longevity and the ability to ward off evil spirits.

Inside the temple hall, there is a plaque inscribed with the words 波靖南溟(Gentle Waves over the South Seas) presented by Qing Dynasty Emperor Guang Xu in 1907, evidence of the temple's stature.

The time that I was sketching at the corridor opposite the temple, there must be at least 4 to 5 big tour coaches carrying tourists from different countries visiting the temple. These big coaches often blocked my view so it took me a little longer than expected to finish the sketch. I did it in one hour.