Saturday, May 9, 2009

Great Temple of Macua 1843

Façade of the Great Temple, Macao
By Thomas Allom 1843

So slight is Portuguese tenure or title at Macao, that the Chinese maintain here, in neighbourship with this despised of race foreigners, one of the most remarkable, most venerated, and really graceful building in the empire, dedicated to the worship of Fo. Which all Chinese pray for.

The architecture is more intelligible as a design, more perfect in execution, and less Grotesque, than the majority of Buddhist temples, the situation on the water-side, Amidst forest-trees and natural rock, is inconceivable beautiful, and the mode in which the architects have availed themselves of all these accessories to grace and harmony is highly meritorious.

The Neang – mako, or Old Temple of the Lady, is situated half a mile from the city centre of Macao, the temple is not perceived until the visitor comes suddenly upon the steep rocky steps that descend to the spacious esplanade before it. The scene in front, composed of religious votaries, venders of various commodities, jugglers, Ballad singers, sailors, soldiers, mandarins, and mendicants, is common to all the Sea – ports of China. The merits of the building itself are of so peculiar and so Conspicuous a character, that they call for a more detailed description. It is not Grandeur or loftiness, that the Neang – mako owes its charms, but also to Multitudinous details, made out with a minuteness and accuracy that cannot be exceeded. There is not another example, most probably, in all this wide – extended empire, in which the many grotesque features of Chinese scenery are concentrated within so small a compass, buildings, rocks, trees growing from the very stone, would appear to justify the artificial combinations that are madein their gardening, and in their drawings.

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