In 1953, the carvings during the renovation for lifting the roof of Mazu Temple in Main Hall and moving forward the foundation include a pair of dragon pillars, opposing carving of ‘qi qiu ji qing’, opposing carvings of ‘feng tiao’, ‘yu shun’, ‘guo tai’, ‘min an’, opposing carvings of ‘dragon’ and ‘tiger’, ‘two tigers playing with a ball’ and bamboo windows, etc.
A dragon pillar is composed of three parts: a head, a body, and a base. On the head and base of the dragon pillar are ornaments of good fortunes such as eight treasures. The octagonal central pillar is carved out with a spiraling down dragon, Eight Gods, flowers, birds, beasts, clouds and waves. Similarly, as the figures with rides on the dragon pillar, the figures on this dragon pillar are also painted in gold partly to single out the strong contrast and create more colorful visual effects. This fully coincides with classic style of masons from Hui An.
The stone carvings and stone windows are in relief and openwork carving, such as the gods, historical figures, ‘qi qiu ji qing; feng tiao yu shun; guo tai min an’, picture of three kings, two lions playing with a ball, and geometrical decoration. For example, on the top, the carving shows an official met with an old man politely with an empty sedan chair. Accordingly, we can infer the carving illustrating a scene when Emperor Wen of Zhou respectfully invited Jiang Zi-Ya to serve for him.
On the stone carvings at both sides, we can see the presentation of the techniques of hollow relief and openwork carving, such as the carvings on ‘qi qiu’ and ‘ji qing’ and ‘feng tiao’ and ‘yu shun’ and ‘guo tai’ and ‘min an’. The opposing carvings at left and right passages are carvings of a tiger and dragon in hollow relief, signifying ‘feng tiao’ and ‘yu shun’. The symbol derives from Lunheng: Ouhui composed by Confucian scholars (Rusheng) in Han dynasty: ‘The wind follows the tiger, and the clouds accompany the dragon. Belonging to the same sort and permeated by a similar fluid, their natures can mutually affect one another.’ These are essential topics in folk art of temples.
Over the walls of Dragon doorway and Tiger doorway are bamboo windows. The sculptors soften the solid stones by carving them into bamboo windows in the shape of ancient books. The five round bamboo lattices in the window are carved with relief bamboo and bamboo leaves, like a painting within a painting. Generally speaking, the carvings in the main hall are accurately styled with sophisticated techniques. The masterpieces of master masons from Hui An and their disciples are well-preserved.
Suspended for more than a decade because of wars, Guandu Temple could resume the renovation. Master masons from Hui An, Zhang Mu-Cheng from Zhang Xie-Cheng’s Mason later settle in Dadaocheng, Zhang Qi-Yu, a mason from San Xia Zu Shi Temple hosted by Li Mei-Shu had supported stone carvings in Guandu Temple, fully presenting the essence of stone carvings from Hui An.
The topics of the stone carvings are mostly praying for peace, such as ‘feng tiao yu shun’ (good climate), ‘guo tai min an’ (prosperity and safety), ‘qing zhu guo tai min an’ (celebration for prosperity and safety), ‘zhu bao ping an’ (safety messages brought by bamboos), etc. It seems that after Pacific War, the residents in Taiwan desired for peace in the transition of dynasties.