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Dragon and Tiger

Dragon and Tiger Wall

   Influenced by Taoism, Azure Dragon and White Tiger among the Four Spirit Beasts are regarded as the guardian deities. Temple buildings usually present artistic creation of dragon and tiger totem in the left and right walls of the entrance. We find in the investigation that dragon and tiger wall did not appear in Changhua Temple Of Confucius, which also aroused our curiosity. We find from further study the same situation in another national historic site, Tainan Confucian Temple. Therefore, we upheld the spirit of exploring dragon and include this situation into one of our research directions.

Characteristics of Official Temple

   After organizing data about architectural characteristics of temples in Taiwan into Temple of Literature (Ancestral Temple of Literature), Martial Temple and Mazu Temple, we find no door deities, no left or right wall at the entrance, and no dragon and tiger totem carving decoration or painting in all official temples in Taiwan. This plain and simple characteristic is a common style in the temples for official worship ceremony in the north.

  At first we only knew that the style of official temples was not painted with door deities but having 108 doornails on the doors instead. In the Qing Dynasty, this kind of door could only be used in the palace and official temples like Confucius Temple, Martial Temple and Mazu Temple, which therefore is also the main feature to identify the official temple. We did not expect that there was no dragon and tiger totem painting carving decoration in the left and right wall at the entrance of Sanchuan Hall is also the main feature. 

(*Note 1) It was stipulated in the Qing Dynasty that the Confucius Temple, Temple Of Guanyu, City God Temple and Mazu Temple were the temples for sacrificial rites constructed by the government. The traditional system stipulated that the official temple could only be established in the county jurisdiction area with only one for each county. The traditions of the official temple buildings in Qing Dynasty: without door deity (replaced with doornails) and without left and right dragon and tiger wall(dragon and tiger totem) stone carving or painting.
(*Note 2) The "dragon and tiger wall engraving "stone carving work for Sanchuan Gate in current Tainan Great Queen of Heaven Temple was carved in the Japanese Occupation Period. According to legend, this is a work by Zhang Chaoxiang and there was no “dragon and tiger wall engraving” stone carving originally.

Taoism and Azure Dragon

  In order to understand the status and role of Azure Dragon in China's temples, we sorted out the following information

Conclusion and experience

1.Affected by Taoism, Azure Dragon and White Tiger are included in the door deities range and responsible for guarding the Taoist temple gate. Official Temple gate left and right walls do not have dragon and tiger totem, which should be associated with official temple's having no door deities provided.

2. Among the official temple, the existing stone carvings of dragon and tiger totem in left and right walls of the entrance door in Tainan Grand Matsu Temple are the works in the late Japanese Occupation Period according to textual research. The style evolves into gorgeous style of private temples due to changes in the background.

3.The “temple of literature” of Lukang Wen Wu Temple was called the “ancestral temple of literature”. The reason why it was not called the “temple of literature” is because it was not a county jurisdiction area and according to the traditional system stipulation no “temple of literature” enshrining and worshiping the Greatest Sage and Teacher “Confucius” should be constructed there. Although it is a private temple, but it imitates the simple and not gorgeous style of the official temples with no door deities, dragon and tiger wall painting or carving decoration provided.

4.There are other statements about official temple's having no door deities provided. Since Confucius remarked that "The subjects on which the Master did not talk, were -- extraordinary things, feats of strength, disorder, and spiritual beings", Confucius Temple and Ancestral Temple of Literature do not have door deities. Besides, Guangong hasimmense martial prowess, so Martial Temple does not need door deities.

▲ Figure 4-6-1 : Entrance door and left wall of Changhua Temple of Confucius (Lingxing Gate) (Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers) ▲Figure 4-6-2 Changhua Temple of Confucius has no left and right walls and no dragon and tiger totemcarving decoration, and only retains brick carving of auspicious significance ( Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers )
▲ Figure4-6-3 : Dragon wall of Sanchuan Hall in Tainan Grand Matsu Temple (Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers ) ▲Figure 4-6-4 :Stone carvings of Tainan dragon and tiger wall in Grand Matsu Temple are new works in the late Japanese Occupation Period ( Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers )

Trace of Dragons in Changhua - Meet the Dragon through Time  / Team:Dragon Seekers
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