蜈蚣山天师宫 （Wu Gong Shan Tian Shi Gong)
Centipede Temple | Then Sze Temple
She can also be called as 观音 (Guan Yin) for short. She is often portrayed as a young woman in a white robe and holding a jar of pure water on her left hand while her right-hand holds a willow branch. She mainly appears on a lotus flower.
A money toad was also located at the centre of the stairway. You can pray to it and touch it (judging from the stairway next to it) to receive good money fortune.
The first shrine that I noticed was actually the main shrine of this temple. 天师爷 (Tian Shi Ye / Then Sze Ye) is the main focus of this 140 years old temple. Legend said that Tian Shi Ye was a powerful 道士 (Taoist Priest) who specializes in catching ghosts and creatures. He was invited to take care of the piece of land which was empty but full of creatures. However, when believers asked him through a medium about the status of the mountain, he demanded to be moved to the top of the mountain. The people felt ironic as the mountain was nothing but full of wild grasses, old trees and weird stones. When the people got up there, they were baffled because, in the middle of an unexpected meadow, there was a joystick on the ground, indicating that the Tian Shi Ye already had a plan. It was said that those who had witnessed the appearance of centipedes will be blessed with great luck and fortune.
Another myth depicted a wanderer who left his home to find better luck in a foreign land. After he had found his fortune, he deliberately neglected his mother who had a hard time taking care of him since young till he was grown. The Gods were furious and they punished him into a stone boat, located on a mountain where he cannot move forward or backwards. On the mountain, there was a centipede accompanying the stone boat where it was said to be the mother of the wanderer who couldn’t let go of her son.
This is another shrine dedicated to Guan Yin. There are two children by her side called 金童玉女 (Golden Youth and Jade Maiden), named 善财童子 Shancai Tongzi (红孩儿 Red Boy; Son of the 铁扇公主 Princess Iron Fan / 罗杀女 Demonic Lady and 牛魔王 Bull Demon King) and 龙女 Longnv (Dragon Girl; daughter of the Dragon King of East Sea).
This one here has no statue, implying that the shrine was dedicated to the Sky Deity / Heavens. (If not mistaken because that’s what usually people usually do; pray to the air.)
This shrine is dedicated to 5 different deities.
1. 太阴娘娘/太阴星君 Lunar Goddess dubbed as 嫦娥 Chang’e
2. 黄老仙师 Huang Lao Xian Shi (Mandarin) / Wong Lou Sin Si (Cantonese)
3. 太上老君 / 道德天尊 The Grand Supreme Elderly Lord / The Universally Honoured Virtuous One
4. 齐天大圣 / 孙悟空 Sun Wu Kong dubbed as Monkey King
5. 太阳星君 Sun Deity / Lord of Solar
Lunar Goddess dubbed as Chang’e was said to be living in the moon with a little bunny. The legend said that her husband had a pill that grants him immortality but he didn’t want to stay immortal without his husband so he hid it under the bed. One day, someone invaded the home when the husband was not in and demanded Chang’e to give him the pills. Reluctant, she ate the pill and fled to the moon. I’m not sure how did the bunny join her but her husband was definitely super sad about this.
The legend of Wong Lou Sin Si is actually a little funny. It was said that a Malaysian man was laughing at a bunch of Chinese priests for wearing “funny” robes and performing “funny dances.” One day he imitated them and accidentally became a medium for the deity Wong Lou Sin Si. It was unclear at first of who the deity was until someone had opened the man’s third eyes and the deity revealed his identity. The deity said that this man was born and fated to be his medium in order to help the world. He had helped many people, even during the Japan Invasion era.
The Grand Supreme Elderly Lord is the third member of the Three Pure/Pristine Ones. He is the treasurer of the spirit who is also the most eminent, aged ruler. He was believed to have manifested in many forms of incarnations to teach living beings, and one of the forms is Laozi. He was said to be a very wise elderly in the Heavens too.
Sun Wu Kong is also known as Son Goku in Japanese Romanji. He is the main character of the Chinese classical novel: Journey to the West. Sun Wu Kong was said to be born from a stone who acquires supernatural powers and after rebelling against the heaven and deities, he was imprisoned under a mountain by the Buddha himself. He was released only when Tang San Zang, the monk, had come by to retrieve him to proceed their journey to the West. He was known to be possessing countless powers, such as abilities to see true forms, long distance hearing, command wind/cloud and such. He can fly around on clouds too! Throughout his journey, he had made friends with many demons and alike but he has a very bad reputation in the Heaven and Sea for turning them upside down, even injured some of the individuals there. Eventually, he finished his journey and had become a likeable deity under the Buddhahood name of Victorious Fighting Buddha for his service and strength by the Buddha himself.
The Solar Deity is also called as 日光普照菩薩 RiGuang PuZhao Pusa. He mainly specializes in medical aspects. Legend said that there were originally 10 suns in the sky, who were all brothers and they were supposed to emerge one at a time as commanded by the Jade Emperor. However, they decided to all go into the sky and play due to their playfulness. As it was too hot for the world, a hero named Hou Yi shot down nine of them with his bow and arrows to save the world. Another folklore talks about the mythical heaven dog who occasionally bites the sun. This is the common phenomenon called Solar Eclipse. By tradition, Chinese people would make lots of loud noises to scare the dog away.
He is one of the 菩萨 Pu Sa (Bodhisattva) but since he was destined to become the next Buddha, he was given the Buddha title and hence he was called as the Laughing Buddha (in common). He is always seen to be smiling and chuckling. His round head and huge earlobes give a very approachable, kind and prosperous impression. Almost like he doesn’t have any stress of troubled thoughts. Hence, he’s one of the most favourable deity. His smiling has two meanings: to tell the world that they should encounter problems optimistically & to put down negativity while one must always share happiness.
This is a type of Chinese Buddhism Gargoyle called 石獅 Stone Lion who is also dubbed as Chinese Imperial Guardian Lions. They were believed to have powerful mythical protective benefits. The Okinawa Shisa, which comes in a pair, was derived from these guardian lions but they have different usage aside from providing protection. According to my tour guide during my Okinawa Trip, the left one (male) keeps its mouth open to ‘scare away the bad’ whilst the right one (female) keeps its mouth closed to ‘keep in/share the good/money.’ (He also added that that’s the reason why Japanese housewives are so good at taking the household financial into their hands.)
The Centipede Hill Top
When you climb up to the hilltop, you will be greeted by the huge statue of centipede. Do give it a few pets in order to keep some of the good luck with you. It’s one of the believes that Chinese Buddhists have, which is to touch good (deity) statues to obtain good luck.
These are some of the symbolism where prayers would request Yue Lao for certain relationship luck. It can be finding soul mate or maintaining a relationship until they grow old together. Depending on what you need, Yue Lao is usually the guy Buddhist go for Love Luck.
- 韩湘子(Han Xiang Zi) Patron Deity of Flutists
- 李鐵拐 (Li Tie Guai) Iron Crutch Li
- 张果老 (Zhang Guo Lao) Occultist Alchemist
- 钟离权 (Zhong Li Quan) Master of the Cloud-Chamber
- 何仙姑 (He Xian Gu) The Lotus Deity
- 藍采和 (Lan Cai He) Hermaphrodite student of Zhong Li Quan
- 曹國舅 (Cao Guo Jiu) Patron Deity of Acting and Theatre
- 呂洞賓 (Lv Dong Bin) Master of Internal Alchemy
十八罗汉 (Shi Ba Luo Han) Eighteen Arhats are also here. They are the original disciples of Gautama Buddha who have followed the Noble Eightfold Path and attained the four stages of enlightenment. They’ve reached the state of Nirvana and they are free of worldly cravings. They are in charge to protect the Buddhist faith and wait on Earth for the coming of the Maitreya Prophesy.
The last stop was a dedicated shrine to the 关羽 Guan Yu, who was a general serving under the warlord, Liu Bei. He is one of the main characters during the Three Kingdoms period. Liu Bei had sworn an oath with Guan Yu and Zhang Fei was sworn, brothers. Together, they aim to defeat Cao Cao, the cruel and merciless tyrant/warlord. Dubbed as 关公 Duke Guan, his shrines are dedicated to strengthening loyalty, giving strength, providing protection/defence, promoting morality and righteousness.
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