Listed as a municipal-level heritage site, Cijin Tianhou Temple has been a landmark for 349 years. A recent renovation, which took more than three years to complete, was unveiled in October 2021. This newly restored religious center in Cijin is again luring visitors eager to experience its graceful antiquity and historical magnificence.
Established in 1673, Cijin Tianhou Temple is located on bustling Miaocian Road. It was the first temple in Kaohsiung dedicated to Mazu, the goddess of the sea and one of Taiwan's most popular deities. The street market that surrounds Cijin Tianhou Temple has developed and flourished with the shrine as its center. The temple is always full of people praying and burning incense. Over the centuries, it has surely been one of Taiwan's busiest places of worship.
The status of Cijin Tianhou Temple in the hearts of believers is self-evident. In the early days, when people built new boats, it was customary to sail three circles in front of the temple while praying to Mazu for safety at sea and abundant catches. The temple has guarded the land and the people of the region for generations.
Renowned Taiwanese traditional craftsmen were invited to participate in the temple's recent restoration. Among them was Wu Cyuan-kun, an expert in crafting and assembling the wooden frames, beams, and columns at the heart of many old-style buildings. He was joined by clay maestro Lyu Sin-yi, master painter Syu Liang-jin, and Chen Cuan-di, an artisan specializing in jiannian shard art, a type of three-dimensional mosaic sculpture.
Their exquisite craftsmanship and artistic talents have given the temple and its folk artifacts a dazzling and haunting beauty.
Highlights include the illuminated dragon lacquer painting, and images of a phoenix and a qilin (a mythical Chinese creature, somewhat like a unicorn) created by a kind of wet gilding, in which gold powder is applied to a wet primer to enhance the artwork's light and shade. These are the work of master artist Syu Liang-jin.
The main hall contains murals — including Qin Shubao and Luo Cheng in Combat — that were created by the late Chen Yu-feng, one of Taiwan's most famous temple artists.
The statues of the two protector generals who stand beside Mazu, Qianliyan and Shunfenger, have a majestic and vivid appearance. In addition, the stone steps at the entrance of the temple actually arrived long ago in Taiwan as ballast on a ship. The fashioning of these ballast stones into steps symbolizes Han migrants putting down roots in their new home.
Visiting this historic site, one can marvel at exquisite artifacts while immersed in the ambiance created by incense smoke. If you are able to chat with locals, you will surely find yourself learning about Cijin's captivating folk culture and customs.
旗津天后宮 百年風華 熠熠生輝