Last month we went on a tour to the White Cloud Temple in Beijing. This is a Taoist temple that dates back to mid-8th century. That's 8th not 18th so it has a very long history.
These are 2 of the 3 highest deities in Taoism.
It is a working temple and is staffed with monks that worship there, offer guidance to worshipers, answer questions of tourists, etc. In the Taoist (or Daoist) tradition the monks wear there hair uncut on the top of their head.
Taoism or Daoism is difficult to define. In some ways it is a religion and in other ways it is a philosophy. You can learn more about it here --> Taoism
The temple is in great condition. It was closed during the cultural Revolution but was well protected during that chaotic period in Chinese history.
I didn't do a good job taking notes or pictures of the signs so I'm not sure what deity this is.
These sculptures are in the Qiu Zu Deity Hall. The hall was built in 1228. The sculptures depict the journey of Qiu Zu to meet Genghis Khan. Qiu Zu is the founder of the Long Men (Dragon Gate) sect of the Quan Zhen (Complete Reality) Taoist tradition and is buried under the hall.
There are incense burners all over. The small signs you see in many of the pictures ask worshipers to not burn incense on the alter tables.
This grandmother was passing the traditions down to her grandson by demonstrating proper incense offering technique.
Margot stopped for a picture at one of the halls.
This picture and the following picture depict the Ba Xian or eight immortals. They represent the rich and the poor, pretty and ugly, old and young and male and female.
I'll let you figure out which is which. The message is that everyone has the potential to become immortal.
This deity is Lu. He represents prosperity, rank and influence. The word lu means "an official's salary".
This is Shou. He represents longevity. He is holding a peach which represents immortality.
I didn't get a picture of Fu. He represents good fortune or happiness.
Fu, Lu, and Shou represent the 3 characteristic of the good life in Chinese culture.
Shou is pronounced like the English "show!"
This is goddess Bixia Yuanjun. She can bring lovers together and bring peace and harmony to the home.
This Kuixing. He is standing outside the Wen Chang deity hall. You rub his stomach for good luck on school tests or examinations.
All these deities have birthdays in the Chinese calendar and these are popular days to visit.
I'm pretty sure this box contains fire extinguishers.
This wall depicts the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac calendar. The first is the rat.
The man in the white shirt is Feng Cheng. He is the man behind Chinese Culture Center. His business model is high quality tours for foreign visitors and expatriates. I can wholeheartedly endorse his tour company and their services.
I'm not sure what this is but it was in the courtyard and I thought it was pretty.
I'm pretty sure this is an eggplant. Not particularly pretty but interesting anyway, I thought.
Cick to enlarge.