Taipei Confucius Temple Lingxing Gate

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Directly opposite the Pan Pool and Wall of Supreme Knowledge is the Lingxing Gate. This is the main entrance to the temple and, with its graceful hip-and-gable doubled eave roof, sturdy studded main doors, and eight towering columns, has an almost palatial air to it.

The term lingxing (櫺星) refers to the heavenly star that represents the pinnacle of academic and literary achievement in the Chinese cosmos and thus signifies the willingness of Confucianism to accept men with virtue and talent, no matter their social standing. In ancient times only officials and scholars who achieved the top grade in the imperial examination were allowed to enter through the main doors of the gate, while others had to use the side entrances. In a continuance of this tradition, the three main doors of the Lingxing Gate at the Taipei Confucius Temple are only opened on September 28 for the annual memorial ceremony in honor of the venerable sage.

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The main doors of the gate may look relatively plain at first sight, but the 108 decorative studs that adorn them are infused with powerful symbolism and perhaps even magical powers, representing the 108 stars of ancient Chinese astrology while simultaneously signifying respect to Confucius.

The origins of these 108 stars are obscure, but they are probably related to an ancient and obscure form of divination called Ziwei Doushu (紫微斗數) as well as some elements of Buddhist and Daoist philosophy.

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Adding a further ingredient to this cosmological alchemy are pictures of the Eight Trigrams (bagua/八卦) painted on the beams inside the doors, which join forces with the 108 studs to ward off evil spirits from the temple. Truly an unbeatable combination!

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In front of the three main doors are two beautifully-carved pillars featuring a pair of magnificent coiled dragons entwined with fantastical figures from the popular mythical tale of the Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea. Carved using Quanzhou stone from Fujian Province in China, these two pillars deliver a powerful sense of vitality that contrasts sharply with the plainness of the other columns supporting the Lingxing Gate.

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