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Taoism Temple

Taoism temples are so much like their Buddhist counterpart, taking the form of traditional Chinese courtyard and palace structure. You may become confused between these two but from the decorative figures and deities which people pray for, you can identify whether it's a Buddhist temple or a Taoism one.

Unlike a Buddhist temple which has two warriors guarding the gate, a Statue of Dragon and Lion play the same role in a Taoist temple; in the main hall, the trinity San Qing (Three Pure Gods), are represented as Yu Qing (Jade Pure), Shang Qing (Upper Pure) and Tai Qing (Great Pure), the four Heavenly Emperors in Taoism replace the Buddha trinity and four Heavenly Kings in Buddhism; and the stories illustrated in Taoist murals depict a more earthly world of common people rather than holy or sacred Buddhist world and clay figures set in the hall are more like common people.

Common decorative figures applied to Taoist structures include a tortoise intertwined with a snake, elephants, lions, gourds (which is said to contain the immortal pills) and other Taoism related things.

If you are careful enough, you will find many Taoism principles and philosophy are applied to Taoism architecture. As we know, Timber framework is one of traditional Chinese architecture feature which defines Chinese architecture is one of the three architecture systems used in the world. China has many world famous bridges and tomb structures which are built of stones and bricks, so timber is not the only choice for Chinese architects. However there is a wide use of timber in all Chinese palace architecture, especially in Taoism.

In Taoist principles, gold, wood, water, fire and earth are considered five elementary substances to form everything in the world. Timber was chosen by Chinese architects because it is derived from wood, one of the five. It is rumored that Taoism respects anything which is more of nature or closer to nature as first choice when they make choices among many alternatives. It is believed that when people live in a timber house rather than cements or stone structures, they are supposed to keep a constant exchange with nature and reach the integration of nature and human beings. That's why Taoist architectures resort to nature topography to build towers, pavilions, lobbies and other garden structural units, decorated with murals, sculptures and steles to entertain people, fully interpreting Taoist philosophy of nature.

Another unique feature of Taoism temple structure is the up-turned eaves. This up-turned structure with a beautiful curve presents a volatile and lively style and symbolizes a flying to the wonderland in Taoism.

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