A-Ma Temple. Macau’s oldest heritage is an empty space
Tuesday. Sunny day. At the door of the temple, a sweeper cleans the Portuguese sidewalk. Plataforma went to the Temple of A-Má – a monument listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site – to report on the environment that is lived there daily in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic.
At this moment, the oldest monument in the territory is a pale image of what, over time, has become accustomed to us. During the hour we were there, seven people entered the temple. The ritual was always the same: buy incense and ask the gods.
Of these seven people, only three climbed to the highest points of the temple. For those who don’t know, the A-Má Temple was built on a hillside, the main entrance of the complex is at sea level, with two pavilions on the ground floor, but then it is always going up by the various staircase options that they are offered up to the maximum point of the natural slope of the hillside of Colina da Barra, where the Guanyin Pavilion is located.
Naked. Anyone who knows the A-Má Temple can easily conclude that only a serious problem such as a war or a pandemic, for example, could leave that space that, for two years, was partially closed due to a serious fire in the Zhengjiao Pavilion Chanlin, in 2016, motivated by a short circuit in a light bulb.
These days, it is difficult to smell incense in the air, something that under normal conditions makes it difficult for us to breathe, there are so many burns that occur there.
The new coronavirus pandemic has stopped the world. And partly stopped Macau. Most visitors to places like the A-Má Temple or the Ruins of São Paulo are tourists and not locals. And it is quite notorious these days. So far the territory has had 45 cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection and has had no new cases for two weeks.
The A-Má Temple, which is located on the western slope of Colina da Barra, existed before the Portuguese arrived in the territory and consequently established the city of Macau. The original structure is believed to date from 1488. Historians believe that the name “Macau” was derived from the Chinese “A-Ma-Gau”, which means “Bay of A-Ma”, where the temple with the same name is located . It comprises the Portico Pavilion, the Memorial Arch, the Prayer Pavilion, the Benevolence Pavilion, the Guanyin Pavilion and the Zhengjiao Chanlin Buddhist Pavilion. It is an exemplary case of Chinese culture inspired by Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and multiple popular beliefs.