Lo Pan Temple (traditional Chinese: 魯班先師廟; jyutping: lou5 baan1 sin1 si1 miu6) is a temple located in Kennedy Town, Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong dedicated to Lo Pan (魯班; also transliterated as "Lu Ban"), the patron saint of Chinese builders and contractors. First built in 1884, it is now classified as a Grade I historic building, and is also part of the Central and Western Heritage Trail ─ The Western District and the Peak Route.
Lo Pan (Lu Ban)
Lu Ban was a Chinese carpenter, engineer, philosopher, inventor, military thinker, statesman who lived during the Spring and Autumn Period of China. Lo Pan was deified as god, and is the patron saint of Chinese builders and contractors. According to folk legend, he was born with a huge flock of cranes spiralling above his home and special fragrance full of his room. He was therefore conceived as a celestial being. His festival falls on the 13th of the sixth month of the Lunar Calendar.
Located at 15 Ching Lin Terrace, the temple is the only urban temple in Hong Kong erected to commermorate Lo Pan. It was built by the Contractor's Guild in 1884 with donations from many people connected with the trade. According to the record of a stone curving inside the temple, over 1172 people from different towns in Guangdong joined together to donate money for the establishment of Lo Pan Temple.
The ownership of the land on which the temple was built has changed several times over the years, and in 1921 it was acquired by the Kwong Yuet Tong, which is currently the management body of the temple. In 1949, Kwong Yuet Tong was registered as a legal entity to manage the Temple. The staff of Kwong Yuet Tong mainly consists of the builders in Hong Kong.
Although there are a few temples on the mainland dedicated to Lo Pan, they are usually associated with other gods; Lo Pan Temple in Hong Kong pays tribute solely to Lo Pan. Although repair and maintenance work is often carried out, the Temple generally remains as its original appearance and structure. In 1949, an office of Kwong Yuet Tong and Hong Wah Secondary School were built on the vacant land next to the Temple.
The architectural style
The Temple is a two-hall structure, with an unusual jagged roof, elaborate "fire" type parapet walls, clay sculptural figures, relieves and paintings inside and outside the Temple. It is the Chinese temple with the largest number of wall-paintings on Hong Kong Island.
Lo Pan Temple is known for its diverse murals filled with traditional Chinese Cultural style depicting different people, insects, animals, flowers and landscapes such as butterflies and narcissi (蝴蝶水仙圖), rowing a boat (張騫泛槎圖), Red Cliff (夜遊赤壁圖), visiting friends (訪友圖), ladies next to the rock (倚石仕女圖), etc. Different styles of calligraphy are incorporated into the wall-paintings to serve as captions.
Lo Pan Festival
On the 30th day of the sixth month of every Lunar Calendar, the birthday of Lo Pan, Kwong Yuet Tong celebrates Lo Pan Festival. Meals (師傅飯) are distributed to celebrate the Festival. Many builders participate in the pilgrimage up the 200 steps from Belcher's Street to pray for working safely and smoothly. Builders and the Government also donate money for the upkeep of the Temple.