Temple First Mountain Gate


This is the main entrance to the Temple at 288, South Bridge Road, Chinatown, Singapore. mountain_gate Along this stretch of road, you will find the Jamae Mosque (1830), Sri Mariamman Temple (1827) and diagonally across the Fairfield Methodist Church (1948). This is a testimony of the rich and diverse racial and religious harmony of Singapore.
Mountain Gate in BTRTM

This traditional temple gateway has 3 large, heavy, red lacquered doors in accordance with traditional Tang Dynasty doors.

It is fitted with gilt bronze studs, engraved plates and lion door knockers. Entry via the center gate is restricted, usually reserved for important guests. mountain_gate mountain_gate
About Mountain Gates

Three components make up the foundation of ancient Chinese architecture: the foundation platform, the timber frame, and the decorative roof.

In addition, the most fundamental feature is a four-sided rectangular enclosure, that is, structures with walls that are formed at right angles and oriented cardinally.

The traditional Chinese belief in a square-shaped universe with the four world quarters is manifested physically in its architecture.

The mountain gate (Chinese: shān mén, 山門: Japanese: sanmon, サンモン,三門 or 山門; Korean: sanmun, 산문) – the gate in front of the temple. The Japanese name is also short for Sangedatsumon (三解脱門 or Gate of the three liberations). Its three openings (kūmon (空門), musōmon (無相門) and muganmon (無願門) symbolize the three gates to enlightenment. Entering, one can free himself from three passions or keshas (貪 ton, or greed, 瞋 shin, or hatred, and 癡 chi, or “foolishness”).

A fundamental achievement of Chinese wooden architecture is the load-bearing timber frame, a network of interlocking wooden supports forming the skeleton of the building. This is considered China’s major contribution to worldwide architectural technology.

In traditional Chinese architecture roofs and ceiling, like the other structural elements, were constructed without nails, the layered pieces of the ceiling are held together by interlocking bracket sets (斗拱 dǒugǒng).

Dougong is a unique structural element of interlocking wooden brackets, one of the most important elements in traditional Chinese architecture. It first appeared in buildings of the last century BC and evolved into a structural network that joined pillars and columns to the frame of the roof. Dougong was widely used in the Spring and Autumn Period (770–476 BC) and developed into a complex set of interlocking parts by its peak in the Tang and Song periods. Since ancient times when the Chinese first began to use wood for building, joinery has been a major focus and craftsmen cut the wooden pieces to fit so perfectly that no glue or fasteners were necessary. FamenTemple otherMountainGate
Development of BTRTM Mountain Gate Before construction commenced, a temporary mountain gate was erected by craftsmen from Suzhou, to give Singaporeans an idea of what was being constructed. MountainGate

The final design for the mountain gate was based on Tang dynasty, as researched by our architects from China.

MountainGate Timber The entire wooden structure is from ‘Yellow Balau’ timber from Borneo. Theses timber was brought into Singapore for timber treatment before it was sent to Zhuji, China for cutting into the various shapes needed. MountainGate MountainGate

At Zhuji, China, our main contractor had an entire timber workshop dedicated to this project. The staff there cut and shaped the timber into all the various pieces and shapes needed for all the timber structures for this temple.

These completed timber pieces were then shipped back to Singapore, Chinatown for the team here to assemble and install the timber into dougongs, etc.

Columns Due to the wet and humid tropical weather conditions in Singapore, it was decided that the load bearing columns be cast in concrete and to be wrapped with timber, to provide the traditional look. MountainGate The timber was then covered with successive layers of paste and linen before it was repeatedly sanded down and painted with our special, natural red lacquer.

Above the concrete columns, the structure was completely interlocking timber, according to traditional methods. The roof structure’s elaborate Tang dougong is a marvel of traditional geometry and craftsmanship.

After the main supporting structure was erected, the main timber buttress beam was hoisted into position in a special consecration ceremony on 18 January 2007. buttress Rafter Caps Gilt bronze caps were placed at the ends of the round and square rafters below the roof. rafter Doors MountainGate The massive doors were then installed. Multiple layers of paste and linen were applied to further strengthen the door.

By April 2007, the mountain gate was ready to receive guests. MountainGate Door handles, studs and plates were then added to complete the door. MountainGate Roof Tiles The gate is topped with specially crafted traditional Japanese roof tiles from Ishino Tiles Production Pte. Ltd., Nara, Japan. Ishino had adopted the traditional craftsmanship, with special processing and treatment, to meticulously produce the roof tiles named “Asuka 1”. The Asuka 1 has very strong water-resistance and dislodging-resistance; it is therefore most suitable for Singapore’s Chinatown, which has abundant rainfall, high humidity and traffic soot. The lotus roof edge tile was designed by Ven Shi Fa Zhao. MountainGate Roof Ornaments A pair of traditional Tang gilt bronze roof ornaments (dragons) sits at the roof top of the mountain gate, providing contrast with the exquisite grey roof. These roof dragons (or “fish tails” in Japanese) were cast by Mr Matsuoka, Nara, Japan. The smaller roof dragons are also found on the bell and drum towers and the tea pavilion. They add strength and stability to these important roof structures. MountainGate Wind Chimes A special musical wind chime hangs at every corner of the roof. windchime Plagues The exquisite BTRTM temple name plaque was carved by Mr Huang Yusuo from Putian, Fujian, China and hand-painted by Mr Zhang Jian of Shanghai You Shan Guan Decorative Design Co. Ltd. MountainGate On the right wall is the commemorative plaque for the Official Opening Ceremony by President S R Nathan, President of Singapore on 30 May 2007. MountainGate MountainGate On the left wall is the plaque for the Grand Consecration Ceremony by Venerable Shi Kwang Shen, President of Singapore Buddhist Federation on 17 May 2008. VenSKS temple

  1. Standard Design for Buddhist Temple Construction, is a Chinese language text written by Dàoxuān in the early Tang Dynasty. It described a design for Buddhist temples influenced by mainstream Chinese architecture, and based upon a traditional layout composed of multiple, related courtyards. This architectural tradition can be traced back to the Shang and Zhou Dynasties.
  2. Fisher, Robert E, Buddhist Art and Architecture, Thames & Hudson, 1993, ISBN 978-0-500-20265-4, pages 110 – 115
  3. Ota, Hirotaro, Japanese Architecture and Gardens, Kokusai Bunka Shinkokai, 1966, pages 90 – 92
  4. William Edward Soothill and Lewis Hodous, A Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 2000 edition, ISBN 81-208-0319-1
  5. Liu, Xian-Jue/Lee Coo, Buddhist Architecture in Singapore,The Tradition and Modernization of , 2007, ISBN 978-981-05-8282-1
  6. Lee, Geok Boi, Religious Monuments of Singapore, Faiths of our forefathers, Landmark Books, 2002, ISBN 981-3065-62-1


  1. Chinese architecture – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  2. Temple (Chinese) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  3. Sanmon – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  4. Niōmon – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  5. Glossary of Japanese Buddhism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  6. Ancient Chinese wooden architecture – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  7. JAANUS / sanmon 三門
  8. JAANUS / sangedatsumon 三解脱門
  9. JAANUS / nioumon 二王門
  10. 山門 – 佛門網 Buddhistdoor – 佛學辭彙 – Buddhist Glossary
  11. Category:Dvarapala – Wikimedia Commons
  12. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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