Macau. Rua da Figueira
Rua da Figueira 福慶街 is a short street in St. Anthony’s Parish of Macau. If you have some knowledge about local landmarks, it may be help you if I say that it is located somewhere between the Monte Fort and the Camões Garden. This quiet little lane is dominated by a building that houses several Chinese shrines. It is actually hard to say how many of them are here: two, three or four. You may also be tempted to just describe it as one temple with four entrances. And indeed on some maps only one name is distinguished, so if you are looking for this place, check “Pau Kung (Pao Gong) Temple”.
If you stand in front of its facade, heavy with yellow and red paint, the four entrances to the complex will read as follows, left to right:
- 南山廟Nam Sam Miu (South Mountain Temple),
- 包公廟 Pau Kong Miu (Lord Bao Temple),
- 醫靈廟 I Leng Miu (Medicine Deity Temple),
- 呂祖仙院 Loi Tsou Sin Un (Progenitor Lu’s Shrine).
Lord Bao was a Chinese statesman who lived 999-1062. He was known as “Iron-Faced Judge.” Some time after his death, he was deified as the personification of justice. Figueira Streeet’s Pau Kung Temple 包公廟 was built in 1889 because of a terrible plague that swiped through the region. Here, people could pray and thank the god for dispelling the disease.
Nam Sam Temple 南山廟 was constructed adjacent to Pau Kung Temple in 1895. Important divinity venerated here is Zhong Kui (鍾馗), the vanquisher of demons.
Pau Kung and Nam Sam temples are connected – it’s hard to say which shrine does the middle room belong to.
The Temple of Divinity of Medicine / I Leng Miu 醫靈廟 is another shrine adjacent to Pau Kung. It was built in 1893. As the others, it is used for praising numerous different deities. It also serves as the entrance to the Sleeping Buddha Hall, located behind all the other rooms of the complex, up the stairs.
Upon entering, the first room welcomes you with the 60 personifications of Tai Sui (太歲) astronomical cycles.
Proceeding further, you stumble upon a centrally located statue of Ji Gong 濟公. He was a Buddhist monk that lived 800 years ago and became a popular folk deity. The legends say he had superpowers and used them to help people, but – quite crazily for a monk – he didn’t abstrain from meat and alcohol. This is a rather classic depiction of him: always merry, with “Buddha” character on his hat, holding a fan and a bottle of liquor.
Pass the corridor, go up the stairs and you arrive to the Sleeping Buddha Hall 睡佛堂.
Among other rooms located upstairs are ones dedicated to Lord Che 車公, a 12th century general-turned-god of protection, and to Thousand Guanyin 千手觀音, the Buddhist patroness of compassion.
The characters above the last entrance say 呂祖仙院 which means Progenitor Lu’s Shrine. It is named after yet another historical figure deified by posterity, a Tang dynasty scholar Lü Dongbin (呂洞賓). It also houses several different deities, including the City God.
If you walk past the discussed temple cluster, you will entounter yet another interesting building on Rua da Figueira. It’s Wong-Chou ancestral shrine 黃曹二仙廟.
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