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Taiwan’s most beautiful gable wall comes back to life! Restoration of the Official God of War Temple is now complete

The gable wall on the east side of the the Official God of War Temple has long been regarded by those in cultural circles as the most beautiful gable wall in Taiwan. It is a major feature of the temple’s exterior, and one of the key features of this project was restoring the red-mud wall. The east red-mud wall plastering had to be restored from the Hall of Three Rivers to the rain passage at the Hall of Three Generations.

In order to keep the red-mud wall finish as seamless and perfectly colored as possible, the outer layer of plastering must be completed within one day. Therefore, the workers started mixing red-mud lime at dawn, choosing orange-red mud with a high-color rendering index and mixing it with top-grade Guanziling quicklime in a 1:5 ratio. Master Tsai Chi-fen led 15 master craftsmen to apply the plastering simultaneously, ensuring that all parts of the wall could dry at the same time.

During the plastering process, it is necessary to spray water (but no more than two times) before polishing to make the surface layer bright and smooth. In the afternoon, when the red mud was about to dry, the craftsmen would put on linen gloves and wipe the darker parts where water had not evaporated. They also examined whether the red mud plaster was level until late in the evening. Finally, the much-anticipated restoration of the Official God of War Temple was complete, returning the red gable wall to its original glory.

文資處指出,武廟之土朱壁與孔廟之豬血土工程,外表皆為朱色但其中差異很大,材料不同、施作位置也不同:「土朱」主要材料為氧化鐵及礦物性色粉,而「豬血土」是由豬血、桐油、石灰調配而成;「土朱」為外牆灰作工程,「豬血土」為柱子、門板之漆作工程。

Tainan Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage stated that the method for constructing red-mud walls is very different from the pig-blood clay method used for the Confucius Temple, despite both being red. The methods use different ingredients and are applied in different places. The key ingredients of red mud are iron oxide and mineral powder, while pig-blood clay is a mixture of pig’s blood, tung oil, and lime. Red mud is used for exterior wall plastering, while pig-blood clay is a paint for pillars and door panels.

Total funding for the reconstruction project was NT$32.58 million, fully subsidized by the Executive Yuan’s disaster recovery fund. Tainan Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage assisted the temple administration to contract out the project in accordance with the Government Procurement Law. The budget for this project was NT$27 million, and the project was designed and supervised by Huang Yi-cheng Architects, and constructed by Rengbao Construction Engineering Co., Ltd.