Jhen Hai Kung
The traditional design of temples focuses on the overall concepts, rather than details. This is why Mr. Hong deliberately provided the shape of the flagpole in his design. Mr. Hong built an almost one-to-one flagpole in front of Jhen Hai Kung, in order to impress visitors before they even step in.
The 64-feet pole is constructed with Selangan Batu. Red Bird, Blue Dragon and White Tiger (spiritual animals) are also sculptures of Selangan Batu. Crouching on the flagpole, Blue Dragon was inserted into the pool. This was an artistic feat because it required accurate calculations and determination of the ratios (of the pole length, thickness, object and base sizes). Everything was in line with the Western standards of visual proportions. The decorations of traditional Chinese architectures were always focused on the essence, not the form. There has been little emphasis on the aesthetics of proportions. It is in fact the weakest part compared to Western arts. This is why Mr. Hong’s innovation came into place.
Golden Lion Crucible
There is a stone lion, with an open mouth, within the three meters from the flag. This stone lion, empty in the stomach, is made with 27 bluestone tablets from Quanzhou, Fujian Province. This awesome lion crucible is 12 meters tall and over 200 tons in weight.
Most golden crucibles in the temple are in the shape of a tower. There are limitations to the shape of the golden crucibles because they are meant to attract wealth. However, Mr. Hong made a breakthrough by designing this crucible with shipbuilding techniques. The shape of the auspicious lion is an innovative design that is very appropriate to Chinese temples. Made of bluestone, the crucible has a strong tolerance for heat. Its structure is solid and firm. All the planning was done for assembly, transportation and air flows. Once assembled, the crucible stands side by side with the flagpole. They are the trademarks of Jhen Hai Kung.
The main body of the temple has two-story stairways. There is a dimensional and oval pool in the “red chamber” (note 2) of the stairways. It is a great challenge to crate a water pool (made of stone) that is round and smooth on a slope. This type of three-dimensional oval structures is rarely seen in the traditional architectures of China where the dominant structures are either horizontal or vertical. All this was made possible with the technical support of ship artists who knew how to cut, sculpture and assemble onto a three-dimensional structure on a slope. There are a total of 14 fences. Two of them represent the door columns and the other 12 are the stone sculptures, symbols of the two Chinese zodiac animals. They represent the circle of life.
The front section is the greatest artistic achievement of Jhen Hai Kung. This structure could not have been created by carpenters who know only traditional techniques. It requires the shipbuilding techniques, the highest form of architecture in the eye of the Japanese people, to create this streamlined and beautifully arched masterpiece. The designer applies his ship craftsmanship in the building of temples. The bending shape is made with wooden blocks. However, the process of bending wooden blocks is the creative flair of the artist. Mr. Li Ku-mo, a famous calligrapher, signed “Power over Seas” on the banner. The three-dimensional structure of the calligraphy requires exceptional mastery.
The wavy but structured shape of the shrine is an artistic feat because of the difficulties in handling beech wood.
The Algae Well in Jhen Hai Kung is the supreme embodiment of the Chinese strength and beauty. From the bottom to the top, there are the Eight Diagrams & Picture of Taiji, sculptures of human figures and fortune animals, reliefs and god shrines. Chinese knits, jades, coloured paints and tapestry are the ornaments. The whole design echoes the Book of Change, from Taiji to Eight Diagrams. These wooden knits are tightly attached to the ceiling. Ship artists apply shipbuilding techniques to make wooden work look like soft ropes. There are 32 statues of Water Margin Heroes, standing in the semi-circle net. The proportions are well-balanced. The interconnecting Chinese knits form a circle and represent the four directions, East, West, South and North. The jade presented by Lucky Child and the colorful tapestry of flowers and birds are a celebration of the genius design of this algae well.
Mr. Hong creates the unique design of Jhen Hai Kung with his creative touch and shipbuilding skills. His creativity makes Jhen Hai Kung a piece of art. Only the true masters can marry traditions and innovations. Mr. Hong’s ingenuity can be seen in each brick and every tile in Jhen Hai Kung. It is a testimony of Mr. Hong’s mastery in woodwork, wood sculpturing, stone sculpturing, cut-stick, tenon jointing and architecture.
Other features, such as meshed algae well, arch middle court and geometric stone floors, can be seen on the official website of Jhen Hai Kung. Alternatively, you can visit this temple.