Sanshan Guowang Temple

Sanshan Guowang Temple

Cantonese-style Sanshan Guowang Temple is one of the most important temples for Taiwan's Hakka.

Sanshan Guowang Temple (Sānshān Guówáng Miào 三山國王廟)

The Sanshan Guowang are the Kings of the Three Mountains. The Three Mountains refer to Mt. Du, Mt. Jin, and Mt. Ming in the Chao district of Guangdong (Eastern Canton) Province in mainland China. The three mountain deities are considered the protectors of the Chao district (Chaozhou) and of the Chao people who migrated to Taiwan. The Chao immigrants were principally Hakka and these kings feature heavily in Hakka folk religion. You can trace the migration of Guangdong Hakka in Taiwan through the establishment of Sanshan Guowang temples throughout the island. Undoubtedly, the most historically important of these temples is the one in Tainan.

vase-shaped doorway

The vase-shaped doorways are a peaceful feature of the temple.

The building of Sanshan Guowang Temple was funded by Chao merchants and immigrants in 1744. It is the only remaining temple on the island built by Chaozhou artisans in a style that is particular to Chaozhou. The temple has four distinct parts built at four different times in varying styles. The original hall supports the worship of the Three Mountain Kings. The south hall, built in 1772, is for worshiping the famed poet Han Yu. The north hall was added for the worship of Matsu. In 1802, the rear buildings were added as a guild hall for lodging visitors from Chaozhou.

This building is quite distinct, and no doubt many people have noticed its aged charm while traveling along Ximen Road. The decoration is a little more austere in this building compared to most other Taoist buildings in the city. The roof is an earthy gray, and the ridges of the roof are restrained in their decoration. The roof decorations along the ridges are clay designs covered in mosaic tiles that are subtle in color. Another feature of the temple are the vase doorways that separate the different halls. Vase-shaped doorways are a visual pun, as the word for vase (píng 瓶) and the word for peace (píng 平) sound the same. There is also an old well inside one of the temple courtyards.

The Sanshan Guowang are the protectors of Hakka people, particularly in relation to natural disasters and disease. They are worshiped during Hakka folk festivals and on the birthdays of the three kings. On the lunar calendar, these birthdays fall on the 28th day of the second month, and the 16th and 24th days of the third month. These would be good days to pay a visit to the temple.

Location: No.100 Ximen Road (Simen Rd. 西門路), Section 3, North District, Tainan City

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