A Disclaimer

nothing stays the same
temple breathes, legend evolves
river never stops

A temple is a living entity. While details as given were checked at the time of my visit, they may have changed: statues exchanged for others, moved, or removed; murals painted over; trees removed; walls destroyed. Another lesson in impermanence. 

Further, although I can vouch for what I saw, some background information may have come from less-than-reliable sources. Often temple staff will not know "the real story," or will tell the visitor what they think he wants to hear. In this way, statues may be misidentified, or legends mis-told. (Please, if you find inaccuracies, let me know!)

And although some of this material comes from written sources, even those may be more dependent on legend than on history. Or, while there may be competing oral traditions, only one might be made concrete in the temple pamphlet. There is also the small chance that my translators (all volunteer) have erred or (more likely) that I have misunderstood what they told me.

And sometimes, I just make mistakes.

Things are even more complicated when it comes to the Deity figures found at temples. As Joyce Savidge wrote in Hong Kong: Temples:

Whenever a Chinese tries to tell a Westerner about Chinese temples and worship, he soon finds himself saying that it's all very confusing. It is. Only those who are born to it can really understand the mixture of beliefs, the existence of many deities from two different religions within the same temple, and the commonsense of worshippers who kneel before whichever god they need to ask for help.

Add to this the fact that some Deities have many names, and sometimes one name has many deities, as with the several gods called Choi San ("God of Wealth") by the Cantonese (Cai Shen in Mandarin); "it would take a believer to distinguish one from another," Savidge notes wryly. And by this one presumes she means a native believer, "born to it."

Which I'm not. With limited skills in Chinese language, I am dependent on the kindness of friends and strangers for information. I am grateful for the help. But as many authors have written in the forewords to their books, I take responsibility for what I write here.

[And don't forget: this was written over two decades ago. The temple has surely changed--and so have I!]

For all of these faults, please forgive. But I assure you that most of this information is mostly accurate. Sort of.

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