Chinese temple architecture

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Chinese temple architecture refer to a type of structures used as place of worship of Chinese Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, or Chinese folk religion, where people revere ethnic Chinese gods and ancestors. They can be classified as:

Temple of Guandi and Yue Fei in Quanzhou, Fujian.
Temple of Bao Gong in Wenzhou, Zhejiang.
Night view of the Dalongdong Baoan Temple in Taipei, Taiwan.
Chinese temple incense burner

Gōng (), meaning "palace" is a term used for a templar complex of multiple buildings, while yuàn (), meaning "institution," is a generic term meaning "sanctuary" or "shrine". Táng (堂) means courtyard or room, and ān (庵) means dome or nunnery.



Shen temples are distinct from Taoist temples in that they are established and administered by local managers, village communities, lineage congregations and worship associations. They don't have professional priests, although Taoist priests, fashi, Confucian lisheng, and also wu and tongji shamans, may perform services within the temples. Shenist temples are usually small and decorated with traditional figures on their roofs (dragons and deities), although some evolve into significant structures.

Chinese temples can be found throughout Mainland China and Taiwan, and also where Chinese expatriate communities have settled. An old name in English for Chinese traditional temples is "joss house".[1] "Joss" is an Anglicized spelling of deus, the Portuguese word for "god". The term "joss house" was in common use in English in the nineteenth century, for example in North America during frontier times, when joss houses were a common feature of Chinatowns. The name "joss house" describes the environment of worship. Joss sticks, a kind of incense, are burned inside and outside of the temple.

See also



  1. ^ R., J (Supercargo) (1822). Diary of a journey overland, through the Maritime Provinces of China from Manchao, on the south coast of Hainan, to Canton in the years 1819 and 1820. Sir Richard Philips & Co.