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Longshan Temple

  • Date:2020-06-15
Longshan Temple

  • Name: 艋舺龍山寺
  • Located At: Wanhua, Taipei City
  • Year of Establishment: 1738
  • Did You Know That …?
  • During World War II, the main hall of the centuries-old Longshan Temple was completely destroyed by air raids in 1945. However, the statue of Guanyin, the bodhisattva of compassion and mercy, stood strong on her lotus stand. Worshippers attributed the survival of the statue to the deity's supernatural powers, which made the bodhisattva even more respected by the temple's devotees.
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Located in Taipei's oldest district historically known as Monga (艋舺), Longshan Temple is one of the most-well known temples in Taiwan. Having witnessed multiple and major historic events, including the early pioneers who cultivated the greater Taipei area, the Sino-French War, Japan's 50-year rule of Taiwan, and armed disputes between communities, Longshan Temple can be seen as a ceaseless testimony of Taiwan's socioeconomic history.

Monga was the starting point of the economic and social development of Taipei City more than 300 years ago. At that time, the Han Chinese from China migrated to Taiwan by sailing across the Taiwan Strait where shipwrecks occurred from time to time. To seek the deities' blessings, they often brought incense from local temples for the journey.

As the number of Monga-based immigrants increased, Han Chinese from Jinjiang, Nan'an, and Huian — three cities in Fujian — funded the construction of Longshan Temple to worship a Guanyin statue from Fujian. From its establishment to the time that Taiwan was under Japanese rule, Longshan Temple had served as hub for economic activities, the center of faith for immigrants from the coastal province, and also an edifice for worshippers who wished to seek advice or even intervention from the deities.

The Monga-based historic site has stood as an incredible testament to human resilience. After enduring a powerful earthquake in 1815, Longshan Temple was under renovation in 1867 following a devastating rainstorm. In 1919, Monk Fuzhi, then abbot of the iconic temple, took the lead to donate his life savings for the restoration of the ancient building that suffered from severe termite damage.

Contracted to restore the temple, Chinese master architect Wang Yishun (王益順) transformed the temple-style architecture to a palatial construction, giving rise to the look of Longshan Temple today. The skilled artisan's magnificent works includes an octagonal caisson atop the front hall, palanquin-style roofs on the bell and drum towers, and a circular caisson in the main hall. The temple is also home to a statue of Sakyamuni Buddha by Monga-born sculptor Huang Tu-shui (黃土水).

In a nation brimming with temples, Longshan Temple stands out for its mixture of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism faiths. The temple enshrines the sea goddess Matsu, god of war Guan Yu (關羽), god of literature Wen Tsang (文昌帝君), and the matchmaking deity Yue Lao (月老), reflecting Taiwan’s inclusive attitude towards religions and folk beliefs.

A series of political and social transformation movements took place after the ROC government began exercising jurisdiction over Taiwan in 1945, and the well-established temple also played a role in the public domain. As the Chinese Civil War came to an end, the west and east wings of the temple served as dormitories for a large number of Kuomintang soldiers and civilians who sought refuge in Taiwan.

Immeasurable historic significance aside, works by master artisans that are of the highest artistic value have been perfectly integrated in the temple, thereby reflecting the different artistic trends and levels of material development from different periods. From the Qing Dynasty's architectural style observed in the temple to the pair of dragon columns cast with bronze, the complex gives visitors a holistic picture of how Taiwan’s architecture has evolved over time.

Surviving war and natural disasters, Longshan Temple, now one of the must-visit places for foreign tourists, is both a tangible and intangible cultural asset. The architectural masterpiece was recognized as a Class II historic site for its historic, artistic, and cultural significance in 1985. In 2018, the centuries-old complex was named a national historic site.