Day in Chiwan
A day trip to local historical sites with friends and
On Sunday, May 30, a group of teachers from Shenzhen
Polytechnic, along with "significant others," headed down to Chiwan in
Shekou to visit three sites--The Tian Hou Temple, the tomb of the last emperor
of the Southern Song Dynasty, and the site of an old fort--followed by lunch in
Shekou. Below are pictures of our day (and a few "file photos"
thrown in). See below for links to more pages about
the first two sites.
||This statue of Tian Hou, the "Empress of Heaven,"
who is more affectionately known as Mazu or "Mother Goddess,"
stands at the bottom of the temple grounds, facing toward the main gate
and the main hall beyond. In years past, the other side of the wall
would have been the sea, because Mazu is a sea goddess. These days,
there are acres of shipyard between the temple and the sea. The
statue is situated between two ponds: a round one representing
the sun, and a crescent-shaped one for the moon. This represents Yin
and Yang, the balance of dark and light, passive and active, and so on.
This theme is carried out throughout the temple's architecture.
(Much more about Tian
Hou Temple begins here.)
|The front gate is supported by dragon pillars. On
either side of the gate's exterior are model boats, indicating Mazu's
protection of sailors; inside the gate are ante-rooms containing statues
of religious figures brought to the temple by devotees.
||The front of the main hall. The style of the buildings
is predominantly Ming Yue, meaning "Fujian/ Guangdong"--in other
words, typical of southern China. It is also typical of Qing-period
Palace architecture. The current temple was built by the Shenzhen
Municipal Government in the 1990s.
|The temple's interior. The main figure of Mazu is
strikingly Caucasian in her character, despite the fact that the legend
says she was Lin Niang, born between the mainland and Taiwan in the 10th
century. The other figures include the great warriors Chien Li Yen
(Thousand League Eyes: right, with right hand raised to shade eyes) and Shun
Feng Er (Favorable Wind Ears: left, with left hand cupped to ear), famous
folk characters who are mentioned in the famous saga Journey to the
West as servants of the Jade Emperor of Heaven; in Tian Hou
tradition, however, they are eternally bound to serve her.
(Much more about the
temple interior here.)
Kate and David test the old deck chairs in the museum.
Like the sun and moon ponds, and the balance of the General's raised
hands above, Kate and David here demonstrate their own yin and yang.
Note that Kate, on the left, has crossed her left leg over the right;
David has done the opposite. Both have their hands on the arms of
the chairs, and their heads tilted inward. They also bear similar
smiles: a perfect example of how years of steadfast dedication to each
other can bring a couple into perfect balance.
|A young lady on the temple staff makes a Golden Tower.
After hours of painstaking work, a devotee will purchase the finished
Tower and burn it as an offering in an outside "oven" to
guarantee the happiness of a loved one in the afterlife.
||Song Shao Di Mu, the Tomb of Song Shao, Last Emperor of the
Southern Song Dynasty. History says that the conquering Mongols (who
established the succeeding Yuan Dynasty) forced the boy emperor to leap
into the sea and drown himself. Legend picks up where history leaves
off: a little body later washed up on the shore, wearing the yellow
dragon-embroidered robes of an emperor. At the same moment, a board
fell from the interior of the Tian Hou Temple. Devotees who
recovered the body prayed at the temple to find out what to do with it.
Tian Hou answered that the fallen board had been "given" to make
a casket, and that the boy was to be entombed near by. The tomb is
now a fifteen-minute walk from the temple.
|The boy emperor is held aloft.
||This doorway leads into a small compound containing the
glassed-in remains of an ancient fort. The peninsula where the
temple, the tomb, and the fort are located is called Shekou, or
"Snake's Mouth." The mouth itself is formed by Chiwan Bay.
The Tian Hou Temple is centered on the bay; there were two defensive
positions on either side of the bay, now known as the "Left Old
Fort" and the "Right Old Fort." This is the Left Old
Fort, or Zou Pao Tai.
|Tree roots cover one side of the compound's exterior wall.
of the compound stands this magnificent statue of national hero Lin Ze Xu.
Although he was ultimately defeated by the British, his stand against the
British policy of importing drugs to destroy the Chinese people's strength
earned him a place in the people's hearts. You can read more (oddly
enough) on a site
about obscure statues in New York City, where he was enshrined
in 1999 because through "his efforts he became a symbol of
moral resistance to the invasion of drugs wherever their source."
Note, by the way, that rarest of Shenzhen commodities: blue sky.
|Another magnificent leader marshals his troops, following
the motto, "Speak softly but stand by a big cannon." The
esteemed Long Haiping, our fearless leader, stands next to an authentic
cannon found in the fort.
||Here we see three of China's "Four Great
Beauties." Where is the fourth? Hey, somebody
had to take the picture!
|A final group picture before lunch. The ship in the
background is the centerpiece of Shekou's "Sea World" shopping
and dining area.
A more complete series of pages about
the Tian Hou Temple begins here.
There is more about Song Shao Di Mu here.
Tian Hou Temple:
The temple is located in the port area of Chiwan in Nanshan District.
Many buses in Shenzhen go along Shennan Road; take one of these buses (for
example, #204) to Nantou. There, transfer to #225. Tell the
attendant: "Tyen ho myow." (Rhymes with "Men throw
cow.") After 20-40 minutes (depending on traffic) this bus will go
past the "Sea World" (Hai Shang Shi Jie) area on Taizi Road;
you can recognize this by the large cruise ship anchored there. Leaving
the commercial district, the bus will enter an industrial area, and run
along a tree-lined road that looks a bit like a dusty old
country lane, despite the surrounding industry. Just as it
begins to enter another more commercial district, about 10-15 minutes after leaving
the Sea World area, you will see the gate to the temple on your left.
Shout "yo sha!" and get off there.
Song Shao Di Mu: From Tian Hou
Temple, walk west until you reach the traffic
circle. (Note that this is the end of the line for bus #226; if you stay
on it past the Tian Hou temple, you can alight at the end to begin your trip to
Chiwan.) Turn right at the traffic
circle, then make a quick left. Walk past the school, and turn left
at the next corner, where you will see the statue of the Boy
Emperor. (The Tomb and the school share a boundary.)
Zou Pao Tai: Again starting at
the Tian Hou Temple, this time walk east to the first (real)
turning to the right (not the street next to the temple).
Walk until you see a road turning to the right that heads up.
After a brief climb, there will be a gateway, with steps heading up to
Alternatively, follow the directions
under Tian Hou Temple above, but tell the bus attendant "Zo
Pow Tie" (sounds like "go cow high"). Along the
"dusty old country lane" described above, the road to the
fort will lead off to the left. Hopefully, the bus attendant
will help you spot it.
From the spot where the fort road
left the main road, catch the 226 back into Shekou, or ride it all the
way up to Shennan road to connect with other buses.
From Shekou, take the 226 to the end
of the line. Follow the walking directions to Song Shao Di Mu.
Backtrack to Tian Hou Temple, which you will have passed
on the bus. Continue to Zou Pao Tai, which you also
passed, following the directions above. Then follow the
directions to return to Shekou or Shennan Road.
The site sin Chiwan can be seen in a half-day, getting you back to
Shekou for lunch or dinner (depending on your starting time).