At the peak of the renovation and creation of new stone carvings in Guandu Temple, dragon pillars during 1736-1795, stone windows and stone carvings during 1821-1850 as well as parts of stone carvings of different periods of time were collected, including precious works by Zhang Mu-Cheng, Zhang Qing-Yu, Shi Tian-Fu, and Liu Ying-Hong.
First, let’s take a look at the pair of dragon pillars standing in the middle of the main gate, in openwork carving made of stones from Guanyi Mountain. It could be divided into the head, body, and base of the pillar. The head of the pillar is engraved with Eight Gods, while the body is in circular central pillar presenting a dragon, peonies, flowers, birds, and figures with rides through openwork carvings. You can see the dragon spiraling up on the dragon pillar with the head and the upper part similarly in freestanding. The body of the dragon winding in three folds downward looks spectacular. In between the dragon are figures with rides with a military hat on his head and a square face, a classic style of masons from Hui An. Among these figures are Wen Zhong, riding on a black qilin, Jiang Zi-Ya, riding on a milu, and Huang Fei-Hu, riding on a five-colored bull, which is originated from ‘Wen Zhong Conquering Xiqi’ in Fengshen Yanyi.
At the place for external pillars are a pair of flower and bird pillars carved through openwork carving. At both poles are a large phoenix whereas between the two phoenix carved with peonies, plum trees, dancing magpies, owls, various kinds of flowers, birds, beasts and figures, symbolizing ‘overwhelming joy’. Parts of the figures are painted in gold to highlight the strong contrast of the forms, increase visual effects through colors. The style corresponds to the feature of folk art, which is simple with a touch of luxury.
The pair of stone lions made of the stones from Guanyi Mountain were polished. Facing at the main gate, the stone lions are in the position of guarding for the temple. The stone lions embody refined style of the king of beasts. The mane of the lions is spiral; the eyes round and slightly bumping; the nose round and thick; the petal-shaped ears slightly warping; the muscles of their limbs solid and powerful. The lion is stepping on a colored ribbon with both his forefeet. The ribbon runs through two coins moving from bottom right to upper left. The mane on his back is like leaves while the tail is divided into five bundles, rising up above the bottom. The lioness is stepping on a colored ribbon with her left forefoot.
Carvings in halls, including carvings at the bottom, middle, and top, are made of stones from Guanyin Mountain through the techniques of relief and carving out, presenting the heroes in Romance of Three Kingdoms and Fengshen Yanyi as well as patterns and images representing blessing and good fortune. They look sophisticated in a plain and interesting way.