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PARKS AND TREES DEPARTMENT
1735 Montgomery Street, Oroville, CA. 95965
Phone (530) 538-2415
Fax (530) 538-2426
Charles Miller, Director of Parks and Trees


Oroville Chinese Temple

 

 Dedicated in the spring of 1863, this building served as a temple of worship for 10,000 Chinese; then living here. Funds for this erection and furnishings were provided by the Emperor and Empress of Chins and local Chinese Labor built the structure. The Building was deeded to the City of Oroville in 1935, by the Chinese Residents. California Registered Historical Landmark NO. 770. Plaque placed by the California State Park Commission in cooperation with Oroville Woman community club on June 20, 1967.


 

Council Room
This in only portion of one room out of the four which are filled with a very valuable collection of Chinese art and religious artifacts.


The Oroville Chinese Temple was built in 1863 to serve a community of 10,000 Chinese. It includes three chapels for each of the major ways of life in China. The main chapel is called Liet Sheng Kong-Temple of the assorted
deities. It is a place of prayer for various worships including Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism.

 

 Chan Room
Adjacent to the main temple is a family or clan chapel. The boards on the one side walls near the altar is the donation received. This room pertain to the clan or family of Chan.


The Chan Room is a Confucian Room for reverence of ancestors. Confucius taught that all human relationships depend upon maintenance of the family.

The Moon Temple, so called because of its entrance, is Wong Fat Tong-Hall of the Yellow Buddha.

The Council Room served a variety of civil and cultural needs of the worker; such as banking, letter writing, discipline and arranging for the burial of the dead.

A major flood in 1907 decimated the Chinese community so that most Chinese left Oroville. Some returned to China while others moved to Sacramento or San Francisco. The Chan Family then assumed responsibility for the Temple, It was deeded to the City of Oroville in 1937 and it was first
opened to visitors at the time of California's Centennial in 1949.

Tapestry Hall


A new addition to the temple was completed in 1968. Tapestry Hall was built to display the extensive collection of embroidered tapestries, parade parasols and other objects of beauty and value which characterize the best of Chinese folk art.

Art was never separate from religious and ethical teachings in China. All objects in everyday use by the common people of China were ornamented by the same symbols seen on these tapestries, The symbols express the religious ideas of Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism - combined and repeated over and over. Presented on happy occasions, the tapestries are mostly red which is the color of happiness. The tapestry repeats the wish for happiness, long life, good fortune and many sons.

Some of the symbols are:
Phoenix--brings happiness
Unicorn--brings noble sons
Buddha lion--symbol of power and valor
Deer, crane, peach--symbols of longevity
Bat, butterfly, shou--symbols of joy


Display Hall

The potteries, bronzes, wood, lacquer ware, textiles and other objects of Folk Art are typical of those used by the Chinese during the period of the temple
community in Oroville. The Cullie Room contains a collection of Chinese and American costumes arranged to contrast the two cultures by each decade from 1850 to 1930. The Cullie Room was added during the Bicentennial year.

Puppets

The three dimensional puppets are from the Oroville Chinese Opera Theater. The rare shadow puppets are displayed to suggest a performance. The puppets indicate the variety and color of the ancient folk theater used to entertain and teach generations of non-literate Chinese.

The Garden

A Chinese garden is not an idle pleasure garden, but deliberately designed as a quiet retreat. It is a place for meditation and reflection. All its parts are symbolic reminders of the religious principles which guide the search for the Way - Tao.

The Chinese Garden is an expression of artistic ideas which have emerged from an intimate feeling for nature. Like Chinese landscape paintings known as "Shan Shui" (mountains and water) the essential elements are stones, representing mountains and water. Trees and flowers are added to the garden, as well as decorative garden architecture, pavings, the pavilion, arbor, walls and gates.

All the plants growing in this garden originated in China. Flowers are not chosen alone for their beauty, but as growing symbols for Taoist ideas. For example, the peony, chrysanthemum, and peach blossoms are symbols
for prosperity, long life and happiness. The bamboo, pine and plum are emblems of longevity.

The Oroville Chinese Garden is a memorial to the original Chinese Temple families and the many benefactors of the temple restoration. This is one of very few Chinese gardens open to the public in the United States. It is maintained by the Oroville Parks Department and docent volunteers.

 

 Typical Chinese Dwelling (1860-1870)
 

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