Beipu, Hsinchu - Historical Heritage Series I

Beipu Citian Temple | 北埔慈天宮

Beipu Citian Temple
© Tourism Bureau (Photo credit: Hsu Shih-jung)

Located at the end of Beipu Street, Beipu’s Citian Temple is the first temple established in the area. The main god worshipped here is the Guanyin Bodhisattva (Goddess of Mercy). Accompanying gods include Mazu (the Goddess of the Sea), the Wugushen (God of Five Grains), Wenchang Dijun (God of Culture and Literature), Lord of the Three Mountains, Zhusheng Niang Niang (the Goddess of Births) and the Fude Zhengshen (the God of Land).

Citian Temple is not only the most important temple in the Beipu area, but also an important testimony to the history of the development of the Hsinchu mountainous area in the years following the Qing dynasty Daoguang emperor’s rule. It is also an important witness to the cooperation between settlers from Fujian and Guangdong provinces in China and the dispelling of confrontation between ethnic groups. Inside the temple, there are several stone pillars carved in the shape of dragons, which are rare. There is a pair of lions in front of the temple, which are also carved out of stone. They are very unique and have been listed as tier-3 monuments.

The facade of the temple’s front hall or entrance (known as Sanchuan Hall) is characterized by sandstone carvings. The stone pillars at the front of the temple are carved in the shape of dragons coiled around the pillars. These pillars and the two lions guarding the central entrance are carved in an extremely simple style. It’s a style rarely used in Taiwanese temples, especially the coiled dragons rising to the top of the pillars.

The woodwork inside the temple is exquisite, especially the “flying fairies with wings” material used on the decorated wooden drums descending from the ceiling. In addition, the two groups of 24 filial pillars in the temple are carved in a smooth and charming way; they are also rarely seen in Taiwan’s temples. In front of the temple, there are many shops that sell snacks and specialty products.

During the Lantern Festival, Beipu residents will set up bamboo torches and gather on the square in front of the temple. Then they will form groups to climb Xiuluan Mountain to worship the mountain god. After the parade, they will return to the square in front of the temple to guess riddles. On the 19th day of the second month of the lunar calendar, the goddess Guanyin’s birthday is celebrated and many people would gather here for a big worshipping ceremony.

Jiang Family Temple | 姜氏家廟
Jiang Family Temple

The Jiang Family Temple is located in Beipu Township, Hsinchu County. It was completed in 1924. It is the first temple built by Taiwan’s Jiang clan. It was built with more than 36,000 Japanese yen and took more than three years to complete. The temple is used as a place to display the plaques of the Jiang family’s ancestral spirits and for future generations of descendants to pay their respects. Therefore, this temple represents the traditional spirit of the Han Chinese race to remember their ancestors and pursue the ethics of filial piety.

The Jiang family led the cultivation and reclamation of the Da’ai area, and as a result hold an irreplaceable important position in the development history of the southwestern mountainous area of ​​Hsinchu. The Jiang Family Temple is the witness to the glorious history of the Jiang family, and is listed alongside Jin Guang Fu Hall, Citian Temple and Tienshuei Hall as the most important ancient buildings in Beipu. In 2004, the Hsinchu County Government’s Cultural Affairs Bureau designated the Jiang Family Temple as a county monument.

As the largest family in Beipu, the Jiang family hired a number of craftsmen who were famous in Taiwan at the time, to build the temple. The Jiang Family Temple was designed by Hsu Ching (徐清), the excellent apprentice of temple building master Yeh Jin-wan (葉金萬). The painted parts were made by the famous master Qiu Yu-po (邱玉坡) and his son Qiu Zhen-bang (邱鎮邦) from Dapu, Guangdong; the parts painted in gold are the most special. The wood carvings were presided over by Hsu and Hsu Chun-quan (徐春泉).

The carvings by the two men’s sculptors have their own characteristics; the characters and animals are lively and they are a breathtaking sight. The stone carvings are the works of Xin A-jiu (辛阿救). The architectural techniques in the temple are extraordinary and have high artistic value. They are the architectural treasures of Hsinchu County and they are also the masterpieces of Hakka masters. Among them, famous master of Hakka paintings Qiu Yu-po’s gold painting was a fine example of the artistry and skills involved. For the Jiang Family Temple, he crossed the Taiwan Strait to come to Taiwan, leaving the national treasure-level work for the family temple, which is also the only remaining work of its kind in Taiwan.