Man Mo Temple Complex – Hong Kong - Atlas Obscura
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Hong Kong

Man Mo Temple Complex

A serene space tucked amid the skyscrapers of Hong Kong's bustling financial district. 

Man Mo Temple Complex is a delicate building in the shadows of the skyscrapers of the financial district. It represents the traditional social organisation and religious practices of the Chinese community in old Hong Kong.

The complex, built between 1847 and 1862, during the Qing dynasty by wealthy Chinese merchants, comprises of three parts: Man Mo Temple, Lit Shing Kung and Kung So. Man Mo Temple is dedicated to two deities, the God of Literature (Man Tai), holding a writing brush, and the God of Martial Arts (Mo Tai), having a sword. Both of them were worshipped by ambitious scholars and students seeking progress in their study or high ranking in the civil examinations of Imperial China. Lit Shing Kung was built for the worship of all the Chinese heavenly gods. Whereas, Kung So was an important assembly hall where community affairs and disputes could be discussed and settled.

The complex is a fine example of traditional Chinese architecture and craftsmanship. The temple’s most memorable features are the rows of large red-coloured incense spirals suspended from the ceiling which are burned as offerings by worshippers. They take a couple of weeks to burn through. It provides a serene space in contrast with the hectic pace of the nearby financial district.

The temple is also featured in a video game, Shenmue II for the Dreamcast and Xbox consoles. The temple and its grounds can be explored in the game. However, the virtual location of the temple is different from reality.