Taiwan firm's ready-made concrete temples save worshippers time and money

A ready-made Chinese traditional temple is seen on a lorry during delivery to a customer in Taichung, Taiwan on July 6, 2016.
A ready-made Chinese traditional temple is seen on a lorry during delivery to a customer in Taichung, Taiwan on July 6, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Some companies in Taiwan spend months building temples with bricks and cement, but Mr Lin Fu-Chun's company simply pours concrete into a giant mould and waits for it to dry.

Mr Lin, 78, said his temple factory, Chuanso, needed just over six weeks to finish a building that normally took six months with conventional methods - and moulding was 40 per cent cheaper.

Mr Lin oversees up to 20 builds at a single time at his vast indoor facility in Taiwan's southern county of Pingtung, employing around 100 people to fill the demand for prefabricated temples of different sizes, as well as statues of deities.

The items are also exported, mainly to overseas Taiwanese who want to bring a piece of their culture to new homes in China, Singapore and elsewhere in Asia. "It's more convenient for some people, who need a smaller temple where they can worship," Mr Lin, who has worked in temple construction for almost 50 years, told Reuters.

Mr Lin started his temple business in 1993, prior to which he sculpted and painted the dragons and phoenixes that feature atop Taiwanese temples. But now he employs others to do that work.

Many of his staff are farmers, who work part-time to help during different phases of the concrete construction method that he says rival firms have copied.

The builds are painted in bright colours and decorated with ornaments before being dispatched around the country on trucks by delivery staff, who add any finishing touches requested by buyers.

Prices range from US$1,250 to US$62,500, depending on the size of the temple and the detail work required, with the "God of Earth" and the "God of Wealth", which are among Taiwan's most widely worshipped deities, proving popular.