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Temple Plant

Many Chinese temples incorporate water and plants for aesthetic and symbolic purposes. Here a sculptural miniature bonsai tree graces the courtyard of Singapore’s Lian Shan Shuang Lin temple.

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Hell Money

Hell money burns in a furnace at Singapore’s Lian Shan Shuang Lin temple.

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Ancient Doors

The entrance doors of many traditional Chinese temples, like this one in Singapore, feature lifelike paintings of traditional Buddhist guardians, assisted by fierce lion-like bronze door knockers.

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AsiaBuddhistChinaChineseDoorDragonEast AsiaTraditional

Flowers

A man holds up flowers he is selling in a market in Singapore.

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Fish Market

A man holds up a fish in a market in Singapore.

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Fish Market

A woman holds up a fish in a market in Singapore.

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Skyline at Night

Singapore’s skyline at night.

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Windows

Colorful window shutters in Singapore.

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Pigs

A line of coin banks in the shape of pigs in Singapore.

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Temple Worship

A woman burns incense sticks at Singapore’s Tan Si Chong Su temple

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Temple Worship

A man prays in Singapore’s Tan Si Chong Su temple.

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Food for the gods

Every Chinese temple includes at least one offering table, or altar, located in front of the statues of deities, on which to present food, drink and floral offerings.

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Temple Images

Most Chinese temples are dedicated to a primary deity whose image is the most central and important in the temple. Other secondary deities are found in other locations within the temple.

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Temple Bell

Beautifully crafted details in Singapore’s Tan Si Chong Su temple.

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Old and New

Singapore’s Hong San See temple rests among its modern neighbors, high-rise residential buildings.

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Marina Bay

City Views from Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore.

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Reading Your Fortune

During a divination ceremony, when a suitable fortune stick has been determined, the number printed on that stick is matched with a corresponding fortune “ticket” to provide the answer to the devotee’s original question. These answers often take the form of ambiguous poetry or auspicious sayings, perhaps requiring additional clarification by a soothsayer.

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Divination Blocks

Red, crescent-shaped wooden divination blocks (or moon blocks) are used to confirm whether or not the fortune stick that fell out during the divination ceremony was actually the one intended by the deity.

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Fortune Sticks

During divination ceremonies, people seeking to hear from a deity will shake a canister of numbered fortune sticks (usually containing one hundred), until a single stick falls to the floor.

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Burning Incense

People use burning incense sticks in divination ceremonies, seeking an answer through prayer from a deity.

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