History of Tiangong 臺灣首廟天壇歷史沿革
Commonly known as the Tiangongtan(天公壇) and Tiangong Temple(天公廟), it is the place where the supreme deity of Taoism(道教), the Jade Emperor(玉皇大帝), is worshipped. No temple was built there in the beginning of the Cing Dynasty (1644-1912) due to the political concerns. It was not until 1854 that a temple was built there, known as Tiengongtan(天公壇). This temple is the only one in Taiwan that was built by the government and the private sector. It was also renovated in 1949. In 1979, the left wing, the palace dedicated to the god Wusheng(武聖), was reconstructed into a 2-story structure. In the following year, the Front Palace was renovated and the girders were renewed. In 1983, the temple was renamed to Taiwan First Temple Tiantan. In 1984, the roof decorations were renovated and became the ones we see today.
The ninth day of the first month of the lunar calendar is the Jade Emperor’s birthday, and many come celebrating the anniversary, hoping to be blessed with fortune and wellness by paying homage to the deity. The ritual celebration of his birth begins at the midnight and last until 4:00 am. It is the spiritual center of Tainan citizens and the best place for a culturally-inspired trip. Make sure you bring your cameras here if you are a devout travel blogger, as there would be plenty to write about!
Tiangong's features 廟宇特色
In Taiwan, the door nails signify that the temple was officially sanctioned by government. In general, door gods are painted on the doors of most temple. Yet given that the Jade Emperor, the supreme deity of Taoism, is worshipped here, nails have been used to replace door guardians.
The temple features five pairs of dragon columns; their histories can be dated all the way back to the Cing Dynasty. Dragon columns in the Front Palace were built during the reign of Emperor Tongjhih(同治) (1861-1874)；that in the back palace were also built during the reign of Emperor Sianfong, but they are smaller. (1850-1861). Every column is surrounded by a single dragon in a splendid layout. Together, with the vividly embellished patterns of omen, the paintings of the Presentation of the Eight Immortals and carp jumping over the dragon gate, these columns are masterpieces. The heads of dragons on these columns are each a unique work of art. The dragons’ whiskers curl in an elegant manner.
【“1” tablet 】ㄧ字匾
As one of the three best known tablets in Tainan, the famous “1” tablet of Tiantan is located right ahead of the worshipping hall. The "Yi" tablet (which literally means the “one” tablet), is one of the three most famous tablets in Tainan City. "Yi" suggests that people can never predict their fate, as the god’s can change a mortal’s destiny with a single stroke. Around the big character in golden color, the interpretation in small characters reads “People are making futile efforts, god’s justice will manifest, retribution never spares, it’s just a matter of time…” This message fills the readers with suggestive and warning implications, making one ponder over its far-reaching connotations.
【Stone drums and lions】抱鼓石與石獅
The spiral patterns on the stone drums beside the Sanchuan Gate are concise and simple. Stone lions located at the sides of the gate were built in the Cing Dynasty(清朝); they are noted for the design of their menacing, open mouths.
No.16, Ln. 84, Sec. 2, Zhongyi Rd., West Central Dist., Tainan City 700, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
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