Zhu Sanduo Temple

Zhu Sanduo Temple exterior

Stuffed under a bridge and sandwiched between buildings, little Zhu Sanduo Temple is a historic temple that many people overlook.

Zhu Sanduo Temple (Zhù Sānduō Miào 祝三多廟)

There is more beneath the Dongmen Road Bridge than a couple of bars, some train tracks, and the toxic tunnel. There’s also a little piece of the east side’s cultural history being overshadowed by the unsightly overpass. Easily over-looked, this little temple actually dates back to 1717, and was a regular stop for merchants entering the city throughout the Qing dynasty.

a mural

The mural of someone doing calligraphy on a man's back is quite interesting.

This temple is dedicated to the Land God. This is a god of low-status, but highly worshiped throughout Chinese cultures. Many homes have images of the Land God on their alters and many neighborhoods have small shrines housing his idol. Typically worshiped as Tu Di Gong (Tǔ Dì Gōng 土地公) and represented as an elderly man with a long beard, the Land God is a modest deity that one could turn to in times of drought and famine. More specific to Zhu Sanduo Temple, merchants came here to worship Dizhu (地神), a deity of Chinese folk religion analogous to Tu Di Gong. Dizhu has the powers to gather wealth and provide people with the blessings of sānduō (三多): more life, more wealth, and more descendants.

Zhu Sanduo worship alter

Zhu Sanduo worship alter

For much of its existence, the temple was located within the city walls, not too far from the east gate. This made it a guaranteed stop for merchants coming from inland who wanted to pray for success. The temple is not in its original spot, however. When it was built in 1717, the temple was located on what would now be the railway tracks. The temple was moved to its current location due to city developments. There’s conflicting information on when this was. By some accounts, the temple was moved to its current location in 1843. Other accounts say it was moved by the Japanese sometime around the end of the 19th century. This would seem more likely due to its location near the train tracks and the former city walls, both of which the Japanese were responsible for changing.

This temple is very small. It has just one chamber with a few idols caged up in the back and a worship alter in front of them. There are murals on both walls. The mural of a someone doing calligraphy on a man’s back is quite interesting. The temple is usually unmanned and empty, so you can visit in relative peace if you find yourself under the bridge. Zhu Sanduo Temple is part of the the Dongan Cultural Zone and would be included in any walking tour of this area.

Location: No.63 Dongmen Road (東門路), Sec. 1, East District, Tainan City

2 Responses to “Zhu Sanduo Temple”
  1. Taokara says:

    Regarding the mural of someone doing calligraphy on a man’s back, it’s about the story that a general of Song Dynasty (宋朝), Yue Fei (岳飛) had “Jing Zhong Bao Guo” (盡忠報國) tottooed on his back by his mother. Yue Fei is a crucial character in defending the southward invasion of Jin empire (金) of Manchu. He was incriminated by a turncoat who wanted to remove the resistance of Song empire. The story is wide-spreading for it sets up a sample teaching people to be loyal to their emperer in any case (therefore it belongs to the kind of stories that the ruling class love to elaborate.)

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