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Man Mo Temple: a peaceful oasis

In the heart of Hong Kong’s hectic financial district lies a peaceful oasis - the Man Mo Temple. This temple is dedicated to 2 very different gods: Man Cheong (God of Literature) and Mo (God of War). The temple was built around 1847 by wealthy Chinese merchants during the early years of British colonial rule in Hong Kong.

The temple is located at Hollywood Road and makes up the extensive Man Mo Temple Compound, together with Lit Shing Kung and Kung Sor. The buildings are separated by narrow alleys. Lit Shing Kung was built for the worship of all heavenly gods. Kung Sor is a hall to the west of the temple where the Chinese community gathered to discuss and solve local issues.

The interior of the Man Mo Temple
The interior of the Man Mo Temple

Hong Kong

Incense spirals in the temple

The smell of incense

Outside the temple are dozens of fortune tellers, eager to read the fortune of visitors. Inside, the air is heavy with the fragrance of sandalwood and incense. Look up to see the dozens of incense spirals hanging from the ceiling, one of the trademarks of the Man Mo Temple. For as long as anyone can remember, the Chinese have been burning these spirals to attract the attention of the gods. The spirals are also known as ‘food for the Gods’ and may burn for several weeks. The temple compound is surrounded by dozens of stores that sell flammable objects in all kinds of shapes and sizes. The Chinese believe that they can provide comfort and good fortune to their loved ones even after they have passed on to the afterlife. Whatever cannot be placed inside the grave may still be ‘sent’ later. That is why the shops sell a variety of paper cars, cameras and bank notes that will be burned in the ovens inside the temple.

Lucky colours

A great example of traditional Chinese architecture, the Man Mo Temple is furnished with impressive sculptures, wood carvings and colourful murals. The artwork offers exquisite examples of Chinese craftsmanship. The colours red and gold predominate, representing the Chinese colours for good fortune and prosperity.
The colours for good fortune and prosperity