An ancestral shrine, hall or temple ( or , Vietnamese: ''Nhà thờ họ''), also called lineage temple, is a temple dedicated to deified ancestors and progenitors of surname lineages or families in the
Chinese tradition Chinese culture () is one of the world's oldest cultures, originating thousands of years ago. The culture prevails across a large geographical region in East Asia and is extremely diverse and varying, with customs and traditions varying great ...
. Ancestral temples are closely linked to Confucian philosophy and culture and the emphasis that it places on
filial piety In Confucian, Chinese Buddhist ethics, Buddhist and Taoism, Taoist ethics, filial piety (, ''xiào'') is a virtue of respect for one's parents, elders, and ancestors. The Confucian ''Classic of Filial Piety'', thought to be written around the l ...
. A common central feature of the ancestral temples are the ancestral tablets that embody the ancestral spirits.Edward L. Davis (Editor), Encyclopedia of Contemporary Chinese Culture, Routledge, 2004 The ancestral tablets are typically arranged by seniority of the ancestors. Altars and other ritual objects such as incense burners are also common fixtures. Ancestors and gods can also be represented by statues. The temples are used for collective rituals and festivals in honor of the ancestors but also for other family- and community-related functions such as weddings and funerals. Sometimes, they serve wider community functions such as meetings and local elections. In traditional weddings, the ancestral temple serves a major symbolic function, completing the Women in ancient and imperial China, transfer of a woman to her husband's family. During the wedding rites, the bride and groom worship at the groom's ancestral shrine, bowing as follows: #first bow - Heaven and Earth #second bow - ancestors #third bow - parents #fourth bow - spouse Three months after the marriage, the wife undertakes worship at the husband's ancestral shrine, in a rite known as ''miaojian'' (廟見). In mainland China, ancestral temples along with other temples have often been destroyed or forced to "secularized" as village schools or granaries during the land reform of the 1950s and the Cultural Revolution. They have experienced a revival since the Chinese economic reform, economic liberalization of the 1980s. The revival of the ancestral temples has been particularly strong in southern China where lineage organization had stronger roots in the local culture and local communities are more likely to have clan members living overseas who are keen to support the revival and rebuilding of the shrines through donations.


File:Wuyi Yuyuan 20120219-18.jpg, Yu (Chinese surname), Yu shrine in Zhejiang File:The Memorial Temple for the Family of Ye in Nanping 2013-04.JPG, Ye (surname), Ye shrine in Anhui File:吉安 渼陂.jpg, Liang (surname), Liang shrine in Jiangxi File:Chen Clan Academy 3.jpg, Chen (surname), Chen shrine in Guangdong File:马降龙 02 - 黄氏宗祠.jpg, Huang (surname), Huang shrine in Guangdong File:臺灣賴氏大宗祠.jpg, Lai (Chinese surname), Lai shrine in Taiwan File:Shu-Shan Ancestral Shrine, Main Shrine, Ancestral Tablets, Tianzhong Township, Changhua County (Taiwan).jpg, Xiao (surname), Xiao shrine in Tianzhong, Changhua, Tianzhong Township of Changhua County, Taiwan


Notable ancestral temples in Taiwan include: * Koxinga Ancestral Shrine (), in West Central District, Tainan * Liu Clan Shrine (), in Liouying District, Tainan * Yang Family Ancestral Hall (), in Jiadong Township, Pingtung County * Wukou Village Liou Family Ancestral Hall (), in Wanluan Township, Pingtung County * Zhong-Sheng-Gong Memorial (), in Pingtung City, Pingtung County * Shetou Doushan Temple (), in Shetou Township, Changhua County * Chen Dexing Ancestral Hall (), in Datong District, Taipei

Hong Kong

Notable ancestral temples in Hong Kong include: * Tang Ancestral Hall and Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall, along the Ping Shan Heritage Trail * King Law Ka Shuk * Tang Chung Ling Ancestral Hall

Southeast Asia

Notable ancestral temples in Chinese in Southeast Asia, Chinese communities of Southeast Asia include: * Long Shan Tang Temple (), in Yangon, Myanmar * Khoo Kongsi, in Penang, Malaysia * Eng Chuan Tong Tan Kongsi, in Penang, Malaysia * Tan Si Chong Su, in Singapore


Ancestral temple is called ''nhà thờ họ'' or ''nhà thờ tộc'' in Vietnam. An ancestral death anniversary will be held yearly at nhà thờ họ and this anniversary is usually used as an occasion to renew the relationship between clan members.

In other religions and cultures

Ancestral shrines or similar concepts are also common in other religions and cultures. Especially other East and Southeast Asian but also traditional African religions have ancestral shrines and or tombs. Ancestor worship is an important and common element in native African religions and is still common and practiced by followers of folk religions but also Christian and Muslim Africans.

See also

* Chinese folk religion * Confucianism * Chinese ancestor worship, Chinese ancestral worship * Ancestor tablets * Chinese lineage associations * Ancestral home (Chinese), Ancestral home * Chinese kin * Zupu * Guanxi * Kongsi


External links

{{Commons category, Ancestral halls
China Ancestral Temples Network

Ancestral halls in Tai Po, Hong Kong
Ancestral shrines, Chinese folk religion