|The Chinese altar from Helena’s Chinese Masonic Temple is currently undergoing conservation.|
The altar is not only beautiful art, but it is also richly symbolic of the land left behind. Worship in the temple was a solace to these sojourners who kept their customs, their beliefs, and adapted their lifestyles to the western frontier. Rich green, red, and gold paint is typical of Chinese furnishings. Intricate characters flanking the altar’s sides, according to our translators, poetically glorify some long ago military hero. Carvings in the wood across the top poignantly represent the Chinese homeland. Golden silkworm moths, wings outspread, flutter among flowers; pairs of bats, their expressions peculiarly menacing, symbolize good luck.
|Bats appear menacing in the altar carving but represent good luck.|