Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta (KMFAP) in the Restoration of Kwan Ti Temple of Mozambique
The Kwan Ti Temple in Maputo, capital of Mozambique, better known as the “Chinese Temple”, has one of the most beautiful altars and pieces of furniture in the artistic heritage of Mozambique. The wife of the designated Prior of KMFAP for Mozambique, Sir Luís Cruz, the artist Natália Mey who, with the mastery of the original artisans, recently restored the Temple and its artistic value that the natural wear and tear of the last decades had withdrawn. Representing contemporary art, in the national artistic context, Natália Mey Lin stands out in the Art World as stylist and, above all, in the restoration of woods. It is her multifaceted capacities in the diverse artistic techniques and the exemplary combination of materials that characterize and enrich her art. Natália's profession is restoring and wood work, having diverse works in Mozambique and Portugal in the diverse domains of the arts.
Born in the province of Gaza, she grew up in Beira Province, but it was during her time in Portugal that she found her love for art and developed her techniques and qualifications.

The Temple came together with the construction of the Chinese Pagoda (Chinese Association) in 1903 for the worship of the Chinese community in Mozambique to Kwan Ti, a historical person immortalized in one of the classics of Chinese literature, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms and venerated by the Taoists, as a symbol of Integrity, Justice and Courage.

“When the furniture was returned, I was given 30 days to restore it, because a Taoist delegation from China would come to re-install the Temple, so I started a race against Time. This job would take about a year, however I finished the main altar on time and the ceremony was a total success” – says Natália Mey.
“The present Temple is characterized by three altars, the middle one dedicated to Kwan Ti and flanked by altars of the faithful Liu Bei and Zhang Fe. In front of these altars is the altar of offerings, where are carved historical scenes of the royal court and of Kwan Tu life. We find in these pieces the traditional Chinese sculpture but already a fusion with figures of the typical nature of Mozambique, as crabs and shrimps for example.”

The altars are in Umbila and Pine, however in the restoration the Pine had to be replaced by the Umbila due to the state of degradation caused by the woodworm and by the time, which led to a significant depreciation in the pieces and the statue of Kwan Ti. Furniture had to be redone with wood pulp and others remade entirely in Umbila. These pieces of art, carved by old craftsmen, have an immense wealth of details.

Sir Luis Cruz says that “as Knight of our respectable and Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem (KMFAP), it was an enriching experience at all levels to have had the opportunity of contributing to the restoration of the Temple of Kwan Ti. Both the Temple and the statue arrived in very poor condition at our hands and during restoration we took time to investigate everything that we could know about the life of Master Kwant Ti, beginning like this to admire him and recognizing his value in the ancient Chinese culture. The Chinese Taoist monks gave me the opportunity to attend the entire (re) installation ceremony of the Temple of Kwan Ti, which was a unique opportunity in life. As a Christian, that I try to be, the love for my neighbour and for nature leads me, with an open heart, to learn with all the traditions of the people of God and Kwan Ti is part of me!”

30th May 2019