Next to the newly renovated Treasure Hill – a military neighborhood turned artist village – lies an old temple dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy – Guan Yin (觀音). This temple dates back almost 300 years, and is well worth a visit on your way towards the artist village.
If you’re curious about the Goddess, as was I, here’s a bit of about her from Wiki which claims some associations with the Christian concept of Virgin Mary, no less, and serving as the basis for other female Goddesses like Matzu (bold not in original):
Guanyin is an extremely popular Goddess in Chinese folk belief and is worshiped in Chinese communities throughout East and South East Asia. Guanyin is revered in the general Chinese population due to her unconditional love, compassion and mercy. She is generally regarded by many as the protector of women and children. By this association she is also seen as a fertility goddess capable of granting children. An old Chinese superstition involves a woman wishing to have a child offering a shoe at a Guanyin Temple. Sometimes a borrowed shoe is used then when the expected child is born the shoe is returned to its owner along with a new pair as a "thank you" gift.
Guanyin is also seen as the champion of the unfortunate, the sick, the disabled, the poor, and those in trouble. Some coastal and river areas of China regard her as the protector of fishermen, sailors, and generally people who are out at sea, thus many also come to believe that Mazu, the Daoist goddess of the sea, is a manifestation of Guanyin. Due to her association with the legend of the Great Flood, where she sent down a dog holding rice grains in its tail after the flood, she is worshiped as a rice goddess. In some quarters, especially among business people and traders, she is looked upon as a Goddess of Luck and Fortune. In recent years there have been claims of her being the protector of air travelers.
Some Buddhist and Christian observers have commented on the similarity between Guanyin and Mary of Christianity, the mother of Jesus Christ. This can be attributed to the representation of Guanyin holding a child in Chinese art and sculpture; it is believed that Guanyin is the patron saint of mothers and grants parents filial children. When the Tzu-Chi Foundation, a Taiwanese Buddhist organisation, noticed the similarity between this form of Guanyin and the Virgin Mary, the organisation commissioned a portrait of Guanyin and a baby that resembles the typical Roman Catholic Madonna and Child painting.
Interesting, don’t you think?
Let’s go explore the temple…
Treasure Hill Temple is within walking distance from the vibrant Gongguan neighborhood, next to Taiwan National University. Enjoy your visit.