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Temple celebrations

heart of the community

The Hou Wang Temple was the social and religious heart of Atherton’s Chinese community. Apart from the temple itself, there was also a community hall, kitchen and a pig oven. People gathered here to worship, celebrate festivals and discuss community issues.

Nowadays, it is the only remaining structure of the original town. It is highly significant as a rare example of temples in overseas Chinese settlements. This unique building houses elaborate carvings and has an intriguing past. It was donated to the National Trust of Queensland by the Fong On family in 1979.

 

an ornate interior

Most of the fittings for the temple, including the elaborate carvings, bell and metal vessels were made in China. Members from the community contributed money to pay for the construction of the temple and their names are recorded on inscriptions within the building.

 

timber and iron

Atherton's temple is built of local timber and corrugated iron: typical Queensland construction materials, used in a unique manner.

Several decades of neglect saw the structure decay from wind and water damage. In 1956, the pagoda in front of the temple was blown down in a cyclone. After the temple was transferred to the Trust, urgent repair work was carried out.

Conservation of the temple buildings was completed in 2002.

Temple altar
"It was a strange place, you'd go down there and talk in whispers. It wasn't a bad feeling - just strange!"
Betty Marnock, December, 2001
Temple 1906 Early years: 1906
Temple 1956 After the cyclone of 1956
Carvings
Temple 1986 Pagoda repair: 1986
Temple 2003 Repairs complete: 2002
Intricate carved figures and symbols on the altarpanel reflect the complex mix of the teachings of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and traditional folklore.

in honour of hou wang

Hou Wang is not a name, but a title. It can be translated as ‘Prince Marquis’- a reference to Yang Liang Chieh, the bodyguard commander of the last Song Emperor (1127-1280 AD), the eight year old Ti Ping. When the Emperor fled from Guandong ahead of the Mongols in 1280AD, Hou Wang was left in charge of the rearguard.

Yang Liang Chieh was posthumously honoured for his loyalty by being raised to the rank of Hou Wang and in 1731 the first temple was dedicated to him in Kowloon. Atherton Chinatown's Temple is believed to be the only remaining temple dedicated to Hou Wang outside China.

 

Coin symbol from Hou Wang Temple2003 Tourism Awards Winner TTNQ Award winners 2003

Hou Wang
A carving of Hou Wang, to whom the temple is dedicated.
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