Madou Daitian Temple
Madou Daitian Temple is primarily dedicated to the worship of the Wangye, or the Five Royal Lords. It is the largest Wangye Temple in Taiwan and a major center of Wangye worship.
The original temple was said to have been built in the mid-1600s, a period of time when there was a great deal of migration to Taiwan from the Chinese mainland. When the original location was destroyed, the temple was moved to a new location and renamed Bao-an Temple. In 1956, the temple was rebuilt and moved to its current location. This site is said to be a geomantic hotspot or powerful energy source, and thus a prime spot on which to situate a temple.
Architecturally, it is built in the southern style, with three large worship halls, ornate mosaic tile roofs, and baroque embellishments throughout the temple. One highly unique feature is the door gods, who are sculpted in relief on the solid camphorwood doors rather than simply being painted.
The rotunda-shaped Guanyin worship hall was completed in 1990. In shape and size—it is thirty-two meters tall—it is reminiscent of the Temple of Heaven. The outer walls are covered in relief paintings of eighty-four bodhisattvas, and a large effigy of the Guanyin sits in repose in the worship hall, lit by a halo of light that filters down from on high and by the 120-layer blessing lamps on either side.
Perhaps the most unique feature of this temple is the theme-park-like trip through Taoist Heaven and Hell, which can be found at the back of the temple. Be warned, it is not for the faint of heart!
The Guangming Light
The blessing lamps, which is called Guangming light, in Madou Temple are ranged upwards in spires pointing heavenward. Worshippers who offer a small donation to the temple can have their own name or in the name of a loved one placed on a blessing lamp. There are four different types of blessing lamp: peace and happiness, health and longevity, wealth, and learning and career. Madou Temple’s 120-layer blessing lamps are said to be the tallest in the world.
Divination blocks, or Bwa Bwei, are pairs of crescent-shaped wooden blocks used by worshippers to find the answers to questions, make decisions, or entreat the gods for help. Divination blocks are carved with one convex side and one flat side. After paying their respects to the god in question by bowing three times, often with sticks of incense, the petitioner first waves the blocks over the incense in the burner to cleanse and sanctify them, and to make a connection with the divine realm.
The worshipper then provides the deity with their name, date and time of birth, address. They ask the deity their question, being sure to phrase it as a yes/no question, and drop the divination blocks on the floor.
If the blocks land on opposite sides—one block flat-side down and the other convex-side down—the answer to the query is yes. Should both blocks fall flat-side down, the answer is a definite, almost angry, no. When both blocks land convex-side down, it is considered to be a ‘laughing no’ because of the way the blocks rock back and forth. This indicates that either the question is ridiculous, or that there might be a change of heart from the god if you try again.
Fortune sticks are a bundle of long, thin wooden sticks in a tall container set in the temple precincts. Like moon blocks, they are used as a method of divining the answers to questions. After paying respects to the gods, the petitioner asks a question and pulls a stick out of the bundle. Each stick has a number carved into it, which corresponds to a one of a series of printed fortunes.
The Wang Ye are among the most important deities in the Taoist pantheon. They are emissaries who tour the world of the living on behalf of the Jade Emperor, granting blessings and bad fortune to the good and the evil. The Five Royal Lords worshipped in Madou Daitian Temple are Lords Li, Chih, Wu, Jhu, and Fan. The leader of the Five Lords, Lord Li, was born during the Tang Dynasty and close friend with the other four lords. Adept with both literature and military affairs, he was promoted to dukedom for his contribution in founding the Tang Dynasty. After his ascension, the Jade Emperor delegated him the job of Daitian Shunshou (hunting tour on behalf of heaven). He went on hunting tour on the Wangye Boat to dispel disease and evil from those who worship him.
No. 60, Guandi Temple, Madou Dist., Tainan City 72146, Taiwan (R.O.C.)