Chingshui Temple and its Quilins
Comparing with other eye-catching colorful temples at the Lotus Pond, some people describe the Qingshui Temple as “low-key elegance”. The fact that Qingshui Temple is an ornate building with dragons carved into the pillars and an inexplicably huge statue of Master Qingshui at the top, I’m not sure “low-key” is the impression that this temple intends to be but its construction certainly presents a more solemn ambience than others at the Lotus Pond.
Master Qingshui was a national hero in Sung Dynasty who fought against the Yuan army. When he became a Buddha, his jobs included awarding good deeds and punishing evil deeds. Worshippers pray to him for peace, good health and a booming business.
In front of the temple, there are two Quilins, which are made of limestone and are installed by craftsmen from Fujia China. These two Quilins are also paper burners. When the temple burns paper money for worshipping Master Chingshui and other deities, you can see the smoke spurting out from the mouths of Quilins. The Quilins are vivid and lifelike.
Like dragon, Quilin (麒麟), or kirin in Japanese, is a mythical creature known in Chinese and other East Asian cultures. It has a dragon-like head, a deer-like body, lion-like eyes, fish-like scale, and horse-like cloven hoofs. Although it has a fearful look, Quilin is always described as a kind and gentle creature.
“Quilin has cloven hoofs but never kicks. Quilin has strong forehead but never uses it as a weapon. Quilin has horn but never uses it to attack.”
Quilin also refuse to walk upon grass for fear of harming a single blade, and thus they are often walking upon the clouds or the water.
In ancient times, Quilin was regarded as an auspicious symbol, and a beast of fortune. Legend has it that Quilin would only appear in a peaceful and prosperous society which is ruled by a wise and benevolent leader. Quilin has once appeared in the garden of the legendary Yellow Emperor and also in the capital of Emperor Yao. Both are well-known charitable rulers.
Another popular story about Quilin is that before the birth of Confucius, a Quilin has visited his home and spit out a book made of jade. Therefore, there’s a folk belief that Quilin brings boys to your home. Today, people often describe a cute and intelligent boy as a son of Quilin.
In Confucius’s later years, his country folks had accidentally caught a Quilin. However, no one recognized the preciousness of this creature. Instead, they abandoned it by throwing it off a cliff. Confucius heard the news and rushed to save the Quilin. However, when he arrived, Quilin was already dead.
Confucius was very emotional and said with sorrow: “Quilin is dead and I’ll be gone soon.” Soon after that, Confucius passed away. The death of the Quilin foreshadows the death of a saint.
By the way, ornaments with Quilin patterns or images are very good gifts to children, as to encourage them to become strong pillars of the country when they grow up.