From the Pan Pool, you make your way to the almost palatial-looking Lingxing Gate with its heavy wooden doors featuring 108 decorative studs that are believed to protect the temple from evil spirits. Two fine dragon pillars standing in front of the main door also help to guard the entrance.
The Lingxing Gate is another standard feature of a Confucius Temple, and represents the willingness of the philosophy to accept people with virtue and talent. In ancient times scholars who achieved first place in the civil service examinations were given the honor of being able to walk through this gate in order to venerate Confucius, while others had to use alternative entrances.
The same rule applied to the Yi Gate, which stands behind the Lingxing Gate and is connected to it by a courtyard and two side corridors. Also known as the Dacheng Gate, the Yi Gate has a relatively understated design compared to the Lingxing Gate, including plain central pillars in front of the middle entrance and an unadorned main door.
However, the exquisite wood carvings of eight hornless dragons encircling a censer (incense urn) on each side of the middle entrance are definitely worth a closer look. So too are the Yong Bell and Jin Drum inside the gate, as well as its two main wooden beams which are held up by three “melon pillars” in a configuration that is called “”two beams three melon style”. Apparently, this makes the structure extremely sturdy and thus well equipped to withstand the earthquakes that often hit Taiwan.
It’s also worth spending some time looking at the beautiful tableaux made from indigenous Koji ceramics that are inlaid in the walls of the Lingxing Gate, Yi Gate, and the corridors surrounding the courtyard of the Dacheng Hall. These feature a variety of delightful historical scenes from Chinese literature and philosophy, including this one depicting the famous fourth century poet Tao Yuanming returning home to live as a recluse after renouncing his high-level government office.