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Nanhai Temple is also known as the Poluo Temple. It was a sacred and important place for the ancient people who explored the South China Sea.
Nanhai Temple was also once a very important site for transportation in ancient China, overseas trade and had been the starting point for the Silk Route.
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Nanhai Temple is a magnificent old temple dedicated to the Nanhai God. It is a very important site in Guangzhou. The temple serves to showcase the city’s colorful and long marine trade history. It is a very well preserved temple of its size and type in the country today.
The history of Nanhai Temple dates back to over 1400 years when it was constructed during the reign of the Suiwen Emperor. The temple had been refurbished and reconstructed several times later. The current form of Nanhai Temple is an example of architecture from the Qing Dynasty. However, it still keeps the original structure and size from the Sui Dynasty.
The Nanhai Temple is spread over an area of 30,000 square meters. The main temple building includes the Zhaoling Palace, Main Hall, Li Pavilion, double corridor and two front entrances. Within the temple there are several annexes like the Hongwu Stele Pavilion, Kaibao Stele Pavilion, Hun Yu Stele, ornamental columns as well as stone lions. There are also various cultural relics like bells and a bronze drum from the Ming and Han Dynasties along with the Jade Seal of Nanhai God. The temple also has several stone carvings.
The Marine Silk Road
The marine Chinese Silk Road had been formed during Han Dynasty. It took the cargo boats of Tang Dynasty setting sail to Persian Gulf and West Asia from Guangzhou. After the Qing and Ming Dynasties, this route stretched and touched Occidental World. Due to this, the route had served as a bridge between the cultures, economies and politics of the Western and Eastern World.
The Nanhai Temple had flourished because of its convenient location on the Silk Road. It serves as the testimony to how prosperous in maritime trade Guangzhou had been. Due to its distinguished history, Nanhai Temple has bequithed several precious and well known historical relics like the inscriptions and unmatched writings from the emperor.
Inside the Nanhai Temple’s double east corridor is a statue of Da Xi, the Water Official, raising his hand over the eyes and looking out into the sea. According to legend, he had arrived in Guangzhou from the Poluo Country by ship. With him be brought pineapple for planting it near the temple. This turned him later to a God. The temple was therefore given the nickname of Poluo Temple.
On behalf of the Emperors of various dynasties, the officials came to the temple for worship. According to the traditional customs, the fishing ships and merchant ships going to the sea would pay their respects to the God at Nanhai Temple before departure.
The locals sacrifice roosters to the Nanhai God on Pineapple Birthday each year. They use clay sculptured or paper made roosters as a symbol of their sacrifice. This gave the roosters the nickname of Pineapple Rooster. Pineapple Birthday is the most awaited event at the Nanhai Temple each year.