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The Third Rebuilding of Sanxia’s Zushih Temple


All you need is just 15mins, today! 每天給自己15分鐘

New Taipei City’s Sanxia Zushih Temple, known as the “palace of oriental art,” is known for its traditional appeal and its unique carvings and decoration.


The initial plans to build the temple stretch back to the Qing dynasty. It was rebuilt twice during the 19th century and, after World War II, it came under the control of Sanxia Township. The then-representative of Sanxia Street, renowned artist Li Mei-shu, assumed responsibility for the supervision of the temple, commencing the temple’s third reconstruction in 1947.


Li took western elements and blended them seamlessly with the oriental temple architecture. In addition to the auspicious carvings of symbols such as gods, dragons, phoenixes and bats in the traditional Zushih Temple, you can also find many earthbound beasts, such as cats, dogs, pigs, goats, deer and bears; winged creatures like doves and owls; and even aquatic life, such as shrimp, crabs, octopi, squid, alligators and lobsters, all of which reward the careful observer. And among this exquisite craftsmanship are also concealed Cupid, angels from the Bible, and the mermaid of the children’s fable.


If you look closely at the design of the temple, it soon becomes apparent that the third reconstruction of the temple was done using the “rival construction” method. That is, a tarpaulin was erected along the temple’s central axis to divide it into two sides — the dragon side and the tiger side — and two teams of artisans would, and according to Li’s instructions, work on their own carvings, expressing their own creativity, skills and ideas. As a result, the respective elements of the left and right sides of the temple are similar in size, and yet quite different in their forms, styles, and technique.


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