At the Palace of the Queen of Heaven | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 22, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 09:35 PM, October 22, 2015

At the Palace of the Queen of Heaven

Along the Eastern bank of the Sanjiangkou, a confluence of three rivers: Yuyao, Fenghua and Yongjiang, is one of Ningbo’s (Zhejiang province, China) major tourist attractions: The Qing’An Hall, or the Queen of Heaven Palace. It was built in 1853 by nine major ship merchants who ran their business in North China. To the south of it sits the An’Lan Hall, built by ship merchants from Southeast Asia. Today, it is also the Maritime Folk Museum of East Zhejiang, and an important relic of the Maritime Silk Road.

The establishments served multiple purposes, from a guild hall for merchant leaders to entertainment for sailors and the temple of the maritime Goddess Mazu. With three buildings aligned perfectly through the centre, the Qing’An Hall has two performance stages, two halls and wing rooms, adorned with hundreds of beautiful pieces of Ningbo craftwork on brick, stone and gold painted wood carving. Pillars adorned with dragon and phoenix carvings are a marvel, as are the works on the wall.

The halls are used as a maritime folk museum, showing detailed models of Chinese merchant ships from various times, and the guild hall where merchants sat in discussions. The Southern Hall has the exhibit of the goods traded in the southern route, equipments and weapons used by seamen. The architecture of the Southern Hall is also distinctive from the Northern.

Both the halls also serve as the temple of Goddess Mazu, the patron goddess of seafarers in Chinese culture. She was a woman by the name of Lin Moniang, who is now remembered as a young lady in a red dress roaming the seas and protecting sailors and fishermen. A huge statue of her is at the hall, flanked by two guardian generals: Qianli Yan “Thousand Miles Eye) and Shunfeng Er, (With-the-Wind Ear).

PHOTOS: FAHMIM FERDOUS

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