A temple is a living entity. While details as given were checked at the
time of my visit, they may have changed: statues exchanged for others, moved, or
removed; murals painted over; trees removed; walls destroyed. Another
lesson in impermanence.
Further, although I can vouch for what I saw,
some background information may have come from less-than-reliable sources.
Often temple staff will not know "the real story," or will tell the
visitor what they think he wants to hear. In this way, statues may be
misidentified, or legends mis-told. (Please, if you find inaccuracies, let
And although some of this material comes from
written sources, even those may be more dependent on legend than on
history. Or, while there may be competing oral traditions, only one might
made concrete in the temple pamphlet. There is also the small chance that
my translators (all volunteer) have erred or (more likely) that I have
misunderstood what they told me.
And sometimes, I just make mistakes.
Things are even more complicated when it comes
to the Deity figures found at temples. As Joyce Savidge wrote in Hong
Whenever a Chinese tries to tell a Westerner
about Chinese temples and worship, he soon finds himself saying that it's all
very confusing. It is. Only those who are born to it can really
understand the mixture of beliefs, the existence of many deities from two
different religions within the same temple, and the commonsense of worshippers
who kneel before whichever god they need to ask for help.
Add to this the fact that some Deities have
many names, and sometimes one name has many deities, as with the several gods
called Choi San ("God of Wealth") by the Cantonese (Cai Shen
in Mandarin); "it would take a believer to distinguish one from
another," Savidge notes wryly. And by this one presumes she means a native
believer, "born to it."
Which I'm not. With limited skills in
Chinese language, I am dependent on the kindness of friends and strangers for
information. I am grateful for the help. But as many authors have
written in the forewords to their books, I take responsibility for what I write here.
For all of these faults, please forgive.
But I assure you that most of this information is mostly accurate. Sort