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White Cloud Temple
In the 8th century, the Tian Chang Temple was built in Beijing to house a statue of Lao Tzu. Although it burned down in 1202, the statue was saved . In 1224, Genghis Khan ordered the reconstruction of the temple. It came to be known as the White Cloud Temple. Today it is one of China's oldest and largest Taoist temples, housing the office of Taoist Association of China.
In Chinese, Taoist temples are not actually called temples, but Guan. Guan means something like to look at or observe. This is a reflection of the Taoist belief that understanding the Tao comes from a direct observation of nature, rather than scholastic theological studies.
Here are some images of the Temple taken on a full moon Sunday, which is a popular time for Taoists to visit. It is especially popular with Cantonese, whose dialect and fashion stand out from local Beijing residents. The temple is one of the most entertaining I've visited with lots of activities for visitors.
Here's the entrance.
The arches at the front have detailed traditional images including two hidden monkeys. Visitors believe it is lucky to find and touch them. At busy times, there is actually a line of people waiting to touch them, which takes the fun out of finding them too.
Here's one of the monkeys, made shiny with the (yuck) finger grease of thousands of visitors.
Just inside the entrance is a bridge crossing over nothing in particular.
Under the bridge are oversized Chinese coins with bells in the middle (right). For a couple of dollars you can buy a bunch of fake coins (sample below) to throw at the bells. It is said to be lucky if you can hit the bell with a coin throwing from either side.
I kept a few coins and will be offering them free to some of the newsletter subscribers in a couple of months.
Click on the image on the right to download a video file of people throwing coins at the bell.
More of the White Cloud Temple here
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