Taoism is one of our traditional religions, having been oriented from Fu Hsi/Huangti, developed by Laotz and set up by Chang Tao-Ling in Han Dynasty. Its history is approximately as long as our Chinese culture and the meaning is perfectly fitted with our civil religion so that its interrelative influence on Chinese society is greatly either is senior officials or common people.
In the system of Taoist deity, the Lord of Heaven is the supreme deity to govern nine heavens and so He has been hightly worshiped in our society. In ancient China, the rite of “Service of offering sacrifices to Heaven” was a great national ceremony which should be permitted performing by the emperor only. In the 15th year of Yungli, Ming Dynasty, when Cheng Chen-Kung (Koxinga) had expelled the Dutch and recovered Taiwan (in 1661), he had insisted be loyal to Ming Dynasty and erect an altar offering sacrifices to the Heaven in Hsi Ting Alley in order to extend the heredi- ty of Ming Dynasty, referred to as “Stage of Heaven” by the people that time, i.e. the forerunner of up-dated “First Temple Worshiping the Heaven in Taiwan”. With such a glorious history uniquely in Taiwan, we should be careful and diligent to manage it so as to prevent from making the Heaven disappointed and the Earth ruined.
In the history of Taiwan cultivation, Tainan City had taken a position both as an orientation and a connection. Whatever in respect of religion, culture or history, “First Temple Worshiping the Heaven in Taiwan” has played a most important role thereof. We hereby publish “History of First Temple Worshiping the Heaven in Taiwan” to enable those who are interested in this field knowing the importance of this Temple.
Respectfully noted by Jien-Chih Cheng
This temple was constructed in February 1661 when Taiwan was reoc- cupied after the expulsion of the Dutch of Chen Cheng Kom. It was then constructed under orders of the Ming Emperor as the location of praying to the god. The temple was previously known as the “Tien Kon Chin” by the ancient people. There after, ceremonies were held at the west of Chin during the Christmas day of the Jade Emperor every year to let the people pray- ing for the goodness and fortunes.
Despite the fact that certain people had suggested the construction of temple dur- ing the reign of Chin Dynasty in Taiwan, most of the people in general dared not ex- ecute the suggestion and the plan of con- struction for fears of disasters under the sen- sitive political environment at that time, as the example set by the propaganda of ‘Revolt against the Chin Dynasty in order to revive the Ming Dynasty” was still in- fluential that year. Under these cir- cumstances, the only thing established was the Sacred Censor which was then praying in shift by the people. During the Tao Kuang Era, the people responsibled had borrowed the residential apartment of a per- son with Wu surname in Chin Tung to set- tle the sacred censer in order to facilitate the praying collectively. And the establish- ment of the temple was still unresolved.
Meanwhile, the streets and avenues neighbouring to the Tien Kon Chin, name- ly the weeds and flower street, Pin manufacturing Street, Shoes Street, Sesame Street, Chiau Street, Stone Grinding Street, etc, were developed gradually into pro- sperous commercial zone. Under the cir- cumstances that the material life was af- fluent, the nced of the spiritual beliefs was urgent.
In the year 1954 (4th year of the Sian Fong Era in Chin Dynasty), the local tokens had urged the government for the permis- sion to construct the temple based on the facts that the Jade Emperor spirits was pro- minently shown in Tien Kon Chin and open spaces left by the ancestors for praying pur- poses and was used as the location of tem- ple. This request was not only permitted but also greatly supported by the government.
Meanwhile, one of the resident with Wu surname wanted to sell the house, the peo- ple and the government had made use of this opportunity to buy the house and used as the location of the temple. It was then con- structed in August of the same year and was named as “Tien kon Alter” after comple- tion. It worshipped the master gon Jade Emperor, as well as the Land God and the god of Wen Wu Judge.
Next year, the general manager of Tien Kon Altar Mr. Leong Chan Huay and the director Hui Chit See raised the fund again to build the back Sanctuary and had made the statues such as the San Chin Tao Chu, San Kuan Emperor, the South and the north star gentlemen, Pu Hua Tien Chun, Wan Lin Tien Chun, the heavenly doctor, Chang Tien See, the heavenly Saint Mother, Kuan Yin Buddhist, See Min Tu Chin, San Chay, Yeit Lau, Tai Yang Sin Gin, Tai Yin Sin Gin, Lord Tiger, etc, the precious sanctuary had turn a new face. The government and people had been actively involved in these two donation campaigns. According to the monument established in 1858 (8th year of Sian Fong Era), the officials involved in- cluded the Tisuet Taotuh in Tai-Pan area, the Tisuet Taoyu in Tai-Pan area, Nan Road Army Fu Yen, Defencing division Hong in Taiwan, Tam Division Ting, Pan Hu Divi- sion Yen, Officer Yau of Taiwan County, Officer Cheng of Fong Shan County, South Road Brigade Chen, Northern city Kuen Fu Lee, Northern Right Deputy General Of- fice Nee, Look Ti-Pjuh, etc, and thepeo- ple who had made.
the donation were amounted to 400 and above, the fund rais- ed was 1168 _ Yeun, 50,000 Chian Wen Chen, 2 blocks of Ta Chan. This‘is indeed the testificationof the folk legend- that this temple is the only temple built jointly by the government and the people and is the- 01dest Tien Kon Temple in Taiwan.
In the year 1858 (8th year of Sian Fong), hundred ship owners in the rural areas of Chuan Chang Hia region such as the Chin Yuan Loongjhad donated 1901 Yeun to build the Yuen Yit Chong in front of the Yoon Lin Li Stream Eastern Associa- tion. (the present Wan Li). Six Yeun was extracted from the taxes collected each year to be used as the expenditure needed for the celebration of the Jade Emperor Christmas , i on the- 9th of January of Chinese Lunar Year. The keun money was given, to the. person in charge of thetemple as the ex- penses. Meanwhile, there were 73 persons such as the believer Lin Si Sin, etchad donated. 97 Yeun to construct the statues of god and the money collected was for the construction of Yit Chong, and interest in-' come Collected each year had been allocated as the celebration expenses.
In Augus of the same year, thedirectors “of Tien KOn Temple namely Huang Pan Chet, Lin Shen Chin,.LeongChan Huay, Sih Chin Yee, etc had organized 56 comrades to raise the fund of 528 Yeun and to Construct Sih Chong after considering the fact that the “frequent fUnd raising and the routine praying was not the long term planning but indeed increase the burden of the believers. After which, the taxes collected was used as the basis of sanctuary ceremony. Meantime, the “Ru Lan Tang Hui” was established in front.
the taxes collected was used as the basis of sanctuary ceremony. Meantime, the “Ru Lan Tang Hui” was established in front.of the temple at the square which was located at the southern side cf the residential area, to responsible for the temple and sacrificial affairs.
In the year 1894 (20th year of Kuan Shi), the Battle of Chiat Wu, was broken out in July. In March the next“. year,the Chin government had lost control and had signed Ma Kuan Treaty with Japan from which Taiwan was rendered to the hands of Japanese. Meanwhile, the adininiSter of Cien Kon Temple was Chai Kok Lirn though, every affair of, the temple was carried out by the administers of RuLan Tang .
Mr. Sih Fu,Yuo and Yan Chiu- Chen. In December 1899 (25th year of Kuan Shi),the directors of Tien Kon Temple Chai Kok Lim, Wu Pan Shjh, Huang Choon Yie, Wu Chee Chou, Tung YUanThai, Chang Sen ,San, Wang Yen San, etc. had raised the fund of 1810 Yeun to recOnsttUct the temple. Meantime, the nMe of the temple was changed to, "TienTan” (meaning heavenly altar). Soon after, the land nearby the Northern-Gate of this city had been occupied by the Japanese Troops to build the military base. Thefancient temple "Huang Pet Temple” established‘during theKuan Shi Erahad been forced; to demolits, and the god statue of Wen Heng Saint emperor worshipped originally in. that front Sanctuary was shifted'by this temple to the present Wu ‘Shen Sanctuary for sacrificial purpose.
In June of 1909 (Proliminary year of Sien Tung), after the death of the administrator, Chai Kok Lim, no further apfpointment of administrator Was made by If this. temple. 'After the death of ad- fministrators of Ru Lan Tang in April 1929,
Yen Chau Shin, Huang Chen Pu, Chai Chu Tet, and Shi Yen Sen were elected as the administrators
In January 1932. Ru Lan Tang had filed the application of reloction and was approved to shift to the left balcony of this temple by the Japanese government to facilitate the administration of the Tien Tan affairs. In March the same year, Chin Wen Association had been permitted by the Ru Lan Tang to file the application to shift to the balcony of this temple from Chin Tin 3D31 Fan land and was approved by the Japanese government. It was agreed that Ru Lan Tang would responsible for the financial and sacrificial affairs before the establishment of the management organization of Tien Tan, and the Bible singing was responsibled by Chin Wen Association.
The Ru Lan Tang of Tien Kon Temple had been registered as the “Sen Min Hui Ru Lan Tang” during the Japanese occupation era. In February 1939, the committee members and the administrators of Tien Tan namely Yen Chau Shin, Chai Chu Tet, Shi Yen Shen and the representatives of the members Hong Wan Shi, Huang Pek Hui, etc. had been informed that the Japanese was planning to forfeit all of the properties of all temples and ‘Shen Ming Hui for the local constructional purposes.
Therefore, they planned to terminate the Shen MingHui purposely by means of accommodation to the J apanisation campaign before the forfeiture. Upon the approval, all of the fixed assets had been changed to the properties which were registered under the names of 66 persons such as Huang Fon Sui, apart from the temple and the land of temple. Since then, the relationship between the Ru Lan Tang and Tien Tan was gradually alienated and the routine ceremony was still carried out.
In 1945, upon the reoccupation of Taiwan, most of the places of the temple had shown aged proliferation and the administrator Lin Su Hen then invited the local people such as Lin Khen Yee, Kuo Chee Chong, Wang Pan Fei, Yeh Chiu Chu, Chang You Chin and Wang Tien Un, etc. to organize the Reconstructional committee. Chiu Nien Tai, Huang Kok Su, Lee Chien Shin, Sin See Huay wereinvited to act as advisors of reconstruction. The work was started in March 1949 and was completed in January 1951, During the opening ceremony, the President Chiang Kaishek had written a tablet “The character is as high as the universe”. It was indeed a great honor.
In April 1974, the believers convention was held to reorganize the Management Committee and the temple affairs were settled gradually. In May 1977, committee members of second term were elected, and the resolution of Additional construction of Wu Shen Sanctuary Project had been passed.
In January of 1979, the constructional works commenced. During the second term of the believers convention held in August 1980, the resolution had been passed to reconstruct the girder, pillars, roofs, etc.
in the Tien Tan that had been eroded by worms. These two works had been completed in November 1983. And the Yeuh Wu Mok Wan and Yen Pin Gin Wan statues had been sculptured to be worshipped in the Wu Shen Sanctuary.
During the constructional works of Wu Shen Sanctuary, the then Deputy President Mr. Sih Tung Min had written the contrary poems for the front sanctuary, and the President of the Legislative Yuan Mr. Nee Wen Yah and the committee committee member Sin Wen Peng had both written the contrary poems for the back sanctuary.
The Provincial Chairman Mr. Lin Yang Kan had written poems on the pillars. Besides, the Ex-Mayor Chang Li Tang, Mayor Su Nam Chen, speaker of the Provincial Assembly Chai Hong Wen, Provincial Assemblyman Chai Chja Shien, Huang Kok Chan, and the Speaker of the Municipal Shih Sid Chii, etc. had rendered their gifts of tablets. These acts had indeed covered with the additional honors for this magnificent sanctuary. Besides, a tablet of “P wefulness prevails in the country and ti people is happy” was given by the Exxesident Mr. Yen. This is indeed the great 1onor ever have among the temples in the province.
During the 3rd term believers convention held in 1983, a resolution had been passed to change the name of the Tien Tan
which had been built jointly by the government and people in Taiwan to the Tien Tan the first temple in Taiwan according to the records of Temple Directory in Tainan during the Japanese Occupation era. The Tien Tan after established in its origins is running along the historical path more proudly.
As the Tien Tan is the first temple built by the government and the people jointly in Taiwan, and it is also the temple with a long history and a colleCtion of ancient monuments, the pilgrims and visitors from abroad and local places are numerous. During every Christmas day of the Jade Emperor, the prosperous scene of millions of people gathering together is ever seen. That is indeed the reason why this temple has been evaluated by the government as the sightseeing ancient temple.