Other Asian locations
Hong Kong, Macao, Singapore, Bali, Jakarta...

(more about my travels in Asia)

Four Generals (?), Man Mo Temple, Central Hong Kong

The first temple I ever visited in Hong Kong (back in 2004, my first year in China) was the famous Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road in Central.

"Man" and "Mo" are Cantonese for "Wen" and "Wu"; "Wen" is Wen Chang, a deified scholar who is now considered a god of literature, and "Wu" is Wu Di (Warrior God) better known as Guan Yu or Guan Di, patron of soldiers and police officers.

Together, they represent the civil and military aspects of government.

It's still one of my favorite places in China, filled with all kinds of figures, mostly judges of one kind or another. (That's "judges of the dead.")

Thanks to the incense coils that fill the center of the hall, it's also smoky as hell. Literally. The grim-faced judges and the smoky hellish air make me want to be a better man.

In front of the figures of Man and Mo stand four figures, two on a side, facing inward to each other, like an honor guard. I can't prove it--the iconography isn't clear enough--but I suspect that these are four generals who personify the "Si Ling," the four celestial animals:

  • The Blue Dragon of the East, who also represents Spring

  • The Red Bird of the South, also Summer

  • The White Tiger of the West, Autumn, and

  • The Black Tortoise of the North, who is Winter

Here are the figures. Look, for example, at the colors on the figures below, and the faces (a reddish tiger at belly level on the first, behind the flowers; a dragon's head on the third)

Any help or suggestions from experts or dedicated amateurs (like myself) would be appreciated.

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