Photo Journal: Academic Prayers at Man Mo Temple, Hong Kong
I recently moved into a new apartment situated just across from Hong Kong University, the oldest university institution in HK. A change of scenery from Mid-levels/Central Hong Kong’s hustling streets full of expat bankers and other white collar professionals, my walks home are now met with the sights of scruffy young students clad in sweatpants and black rimmed glasses. And more often than not, walking with their noses in books studying for the next exam. (If I had spent more time studying and less time wishing I could speed read like Johnny Number 5, I probably would have done a bit better.)
Anyway, another way students here used to prepare for their next exam was to head over to Man Mo Temple, Hong Kong’s oldest temple. Built in 1847 under the Qing dynasty, the temple was erected as a local tribute to the God of Literature (‘Man’), holding a writing brush, and of war (‘Mo’), wielding a sword. Both gods were worshiped by ambitious students looking to ace the rigorous civil exams of Imperial China, which would lead to esteemed appointments as the country’s highest administrative officials.
Beyond absorbing the prayers of students’ academic and literary ambitions, Man Mo Temple also served as an arbitration court for local disputes (he cut off my chicken’s head!) between the Chinese and the colonialists before the modern judicial system was introduced.
Today, Man Mo Temple still houses the same beautifully crafted ceramic figurines, granite and wood carvings from centuries past. Its antiquated and charming atmosphere is still full of the same smokey and aromatic fragrance from slowly burning rows of incense coils suspended from the roof.
While Hong Kong continues to grow and forge ahead as one of the world’s most modern first world cities, steps into well-preserved sites like Man Mo really transport you back into time. A time when speed reading robots weren’t even a hopeful dream.
Man Mo Temple
126 Hollywood Road
+852 2540 0350