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Pak Tai Temple, Cheung Chau

 
 

This temple was built in 1783 and is now listed as Grade 1 historical building by the Antiquities Advisory Committee.

Origin of the Temple

The early settlers of Cheung Chau were fishermen of Huizhou, Chaozhou and Guangzhou of the Guangdong Province. They believed that their safety could be assured by the blessings of supernatural power. Pak Tai, a sea divinity, became their patron deity. It was said that in the 42nd year of Qianlong (乾隆)(1777), a plague broke out on the island. The Huizhou people carried the image of their deity Pak Tai from their native county to the island to suppress the plague. Since then, all the islanders had been living inprosperity. In the 48th year of Qianlong (1783), the Huizhou people , led by Mr Lam Yuk-mo, built this temple in honour of Pak Tai.

Pak Tai

Pak Tai is the main deity of the Temple. According to legend, Pak Tai is also known as Yuen Tin Sheung Tai (Supreme Emperor of the Dark Heaven). He was a prince of Shang Dynasty (商朝) 3,000 years ago and became a learned Taoist at a young age. His name came to the notice of Yuanshi Tianzun, the Taoist Primeval Deity who invited him to join the company of immortals.

 

 

During the fall of Shang Dynasty, the Demon King ravaged the world. The Taoist Primeval Deity then ordered the Jade Emperor to appoint Pak Tai as the Commander of twelve heavenly legions to fight the evil. The Demon King summoned a big tortoise and a gigantic serpent to help in the combat but was eventually defeated by Pak Tai. On triumphant return to Heaven, Pak Tai was awarded the title of Supreme Emperor of the Dark Heaven. Since then, he is worshipped for his power, courage and devotion. People also believe that he has the spiritual power to abate disasters. Nowadays, Pak Tai is usually portrayed in a triumphant posture with long hair, bare foot and clad in golden armour. The serpent and the tortoise trodden under his feet symbolize that evil will never win over righteousness.

Architectural Setting

 

The temple's layout is in the form of traditional Chinese temples with a spacious main hall accommodating the Pak Tai statue and two side halls.

Historical & Cultural Relics

There is a rich treasure of valuable antiques in this historic temple which include a big sword made in the Song Dynasty(宋朝) (A.D 960-1279) and some whale bone fragments which were dredged up in fishermen's trawl and then presented to the deity, a wooden sedan chair made in 1894, a stone caldron made in 1861 and two granite pillars carved with dragons in 1903. Two other antiques which are worth mentioning include a golden crown which was donated by a worshipper, Madam Chung, in memory of the visit of Princess Margaret and the Earl of Snowdon to the temple in 1966. The other is a pair of incense burners donated by the Chinese Temples Committee to commemorate the visit of Mr. Burgess, the then Officer Administering the Government, in 1959.

Other Deities

Apart from the main deity Pak Tai, the temple also houses Tai Sui (the Sixty Gods of Time), Kwun Yum (Goddess of Mercy) and All Saints.

Pak Tai Festival/Buns Festival (Thanksgiving Service for Peace)

People come to seek blessings from Pak Tai during the Pak Tai Festival which falls on the third day of the third lunar month. Apart from Pak Tai Festival, the busiest time of the temple is Buns Festival (Thanksgiving service for peace), one of the most important events in Cheung Chau which is held within the fourth lunar month each year. It is held in Tung Wan and in the open space outside the temple. The traditional street procession is highlighted by, among others, the units of floats. These are displays of traditional handicrafts with children in gay-coloured dresses balancing on props and stilts to illustrate a moral or symbolize a well-known story. Apart from street processions, there are also theatrical performances and the climbing of the bun towers where young people scamper up the bun tower to grab as many buns as possible.

Renovations

This temple had undergone several major renovations in 1822, 1838, 1858, 1903 and 1989. The latest one by the Chinese Temples Committee commenced in 1999 and was completed in 2003 with a project sum of $13 million.

 

 

 

Addresss:

Pak She Street, Cheung Chau

Opening Hour:

7:00am to 5:00pm daily

Public Transport:

Take the ferry to Cheung Chau at the Central Outlying Islands Pier (Please refer to Ferry Service Timetable)

 

 

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