Monday, November 17, 2014

Inside Macau's A-Ma Temple


Spirituality laces through every aspect of Asian culture and connects areas of daily life. So I was really excited to visit the oldest and most famous temple in Macau; A-Ma Temple. Perched halfway up Barra Hill, the temple incorporates the natural landscape as well as Chinese symbolism.  A-Ma Temple attracts so many visitors that I had to wait for about 20 minutes before they filed into the entrance and I could view the gateway adorned with lions and red lanterns. The temple dates back to 1488, during the Ming Dynasty and includes six different pavilions constructed at different times.


Inside the temple, clouds of smoke from incense fill the air. Offerings, like the ones pictured above, are for sale throughout the pavilions. I didn't take many photos because I wanted to be respectful of worshipers but you can get an idea of the serenity of the temple from some of these images.


Incense represents different deities and can be burned for different purposes, such as bringing safety to a home or success in business. I quietly watched several worshipers kneel in prayer after lighting incense.


The interesting thing about A-Ma Temple is that it represents an unusual blend of Taoism, Confucianism Buddhism and Chinese folk culture all in one space.This Buddha statue surprised me after viewing traditional Taoist and folk deities but it makes perfect sense in Macau, with its mix of Asian and European culture. Mixing and blending is a hallmark of Macau culture in general.


These incense cones were my favorite, they look like beehives gently releasing sweet scents. Visiting a historic temple is an interesting way to glimpse the values and beliefs of a culture. I saw visitors from Macau and all over Asia.I felt honored to witness their sacred rituals and celebrations.

8 comments:

A Cuban In London said...

I totally agree with your first sentence. We, in the west, are more focused on physical and menta development. Over there it's more about the spiritual. Great post and photos.

Greetings from London.

Fly Girl said...

Cubano, one day, the West will wake up to the importance of this.

TexWisGirl said...

how nice that it blends several faiths in one temple. lovely.

Fly Girl said...

Tex,
That's an unusual feature that really caught my attention.

Indrani said...

You travel the most beautiful places. Take me with you :)

Fly Girl said...

Indrani, I'll take you with me if you take me to India in return!

Sand In My Suitcase said...

Interesting! And why not mix religions and cultures if it works for you? We haven't visited Macau (though we've visited Hong Kong several times) - must hop over to Macau! But your post reminded us of all the temples we saw in Bali, the black and white checked cloths wrapped around the guardian statues, and the little palm trays of burning incense and rice (sprinkled with holy water), placed in front of every home, shop and building each morning.

Fly Girl said...

Janice, You must visit Macau, it's unlike Hong Kong or any other part of China.