Five things I KNOW about the Yuk Hui Temple in Wan Chai:
The Yuk Hui Temple is by far the largest historic temple in Hong Kong in which Pak Tai is the main deity worshiped. Located in the Wan Chai, it served as a school, community hub, and a temple with multiple deities housed under one roof. It is also one of my favourite destinations to bring those joining one of my photography workshops.
[Definition: A deity or god is a supernatural being who is considered divine or sacred.]
Pak Tai (北帝)
Pak Tai, or 北帝, is the main deity of this temple. This deity is associated with stars of the north and the sea. There are several legends that explains his origin:
- He was a prince of Shang Dynasty who became a learned Taoist.
- During the fall of Shang Dynasty, he defeated a demon king by summoning a tortoise and snake which led to his title, “Supreme Emperor of the Dark Heaven.”
- He was also a healer-god as Emperor Renzong of illness in which he was described as to have long, unbound hair, a black cloak, golden armor with a sword.
Meaning behind the Inscriptions
There are numerous inscriptions throughout the temple that have its own meaning and wish.
- “德煥辰居” and “總握天樞” on offerings: To honour the divine power of Pak Tai
- “風調雨順” and “國泰民安” on a large cast iron bell: To pray for good weather and peace
- “玉虛宮” at the main entrance: "Yuxu Gong” or the Yuxu Palace, written by Zhang Yutang, the general of the Qing Dynasty
The Hall of Lung Mo
The left of the main hall resides the Lung Mo (龍母), Fat Mo (佛母) and Tin Hau (天后).
- Lung Mo (龍母) translates to Mother of Dragons who was turned into a deity after raising the five dragons and creating miracles. They symbolize parental love and devotion, one of the important virtues in Taoism.
- Fat Mo (佛母) translates to the mother of Buddha, regarded as Maha Maya or Maya. After giving birth to Buddha, she died but was born again in the Heaven of the Thirty-three Gods.
- Tin Hau (天后) translates to Goddess of the Sea or Queen of Heaven and often look upon as the goddess for safety on the sea. She can predict the future, weather and help those who were sick and weak as well
The Hall of Three Pristine Ones ( 三 寶 殿 )
- Originally used as a school, the right of the main hall is currently used to worship the Sam Ching (三清) which houses 元始天尊 (Yuanshi Tianzun), 靈寶天尊 (Lingbao Tianzun), 道德天尊 (Daode Tianzun) and ancestors.
- In order, the deity created the world, the deity with spiritual treasures, and the deity with virtues and Tao.
Shiwan (石灣) ceramic figurine
- You may find Shiwan in different temples. They are a type of Chinese pottery usually seen in temples.
- It is characterized as a style rich in its glaze and often takes its subject from legends and deity, turning soil into colorful figurines. This ceramics can be traced back to the Neolithic era or 10000 BC – 2200 BC
When researching dates and facts I learnt a lot about my favourite Hong Kong Island temple so I am sure you will have learnt something new as well.