Monday, 27 June 2016

more door gods #3

I spent quite a lot of time over the winter searching for more examples of painted door gods in Hong Kong, but until a couple of days before I was due to leave for the UK, I didn’t have enough to justify another post on the subject. However, I came across the Shuen Wan Temple, located east of Taipo a short distance north of Ting Kok Road, quite by accident while checking out something else. If you’re not familiar with Chinese door gods, their origin and some of the conventions governing their appearance are described in More Door Gods #2.

shuen wan temple

This temple consists of three adjoining halls, each with its own entrance and door gods. As usual, because the doors were open, it was necessary to photograph each door god separately then montage them together. Photographing the door gods when the doors are open makes the glare that you see in these photos unavoidable. The following three photos correspond to the three doors in the above photo, reading left to right.

In these three pairings, both guardians are carrying the standard weaponry, a halberd by Yuchi Jingde (on the left) and a pole sword by Qin Shubao (on the right). However, the ethnicity of the two former generals in the Chinese imperial army is not obvious. Yuchi Jingde was a Uighur, but in all three of these photos he could easily be mistaken for Han Chinese, like his companion. Note also that the two figures guarding the central door are stroking their beards rather than grasping the handles of the swords behind their backs. This is definitely a nonstandard pose.

cheung shan monastery

It would be difficult to pick this building as a monastery from this photo—it looks more like a temple—but once through the doors you will see that the internal layout is unlike that of a temple. The first of the two photos below is of the door on the left of the photo above.

The figures in the first photograph look more like scholars than soldiers. Although Yuchi Jingde is carrying a short sword, Qin Shubao is carrying nothing at all and is grasping the belt around his waist with both hands. The figures in the second photo appear more threatening, but note that both are carrying pole swords.

ping shan
During the severe cold spell in January, Paula and I decided to travel across to the Ping Shan Heritage Trail, in the far west of the New Territories, rather than go cycling. The following photos are of the door gods on two ancestral halls, which just happen to be located next door to each other. The first photo is of the Tang Ancestral Hall, while the second is of the Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall.

If you have been intrigued by these images, more photos of door gods can be seen in More Door Gods and More Door Gods #2.

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