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Mutianyu Great Wall

The Mutianyu Great Wall,79 km northeast of Beijing, enjoys a long history and is part of the glorious culture of China. It connects Juyongguan Pass in the west and Gubeikou Great Wall in the east. The wall was first built in Northern Qi Dynasty (550-557). In the Ming Dynasty(1368-1644), under the supervision of General Xu Da, construction of the presently seen Mutianyu Great Wall began on the foundation of the wall of Northern Qi and the Mutianyu Pass was erected in 1404. It served as the northern protective screen, protecting the capital and imperial tombs for generations.

The Mutianyu Great Wall is relatively untouched – it is less commercialized, sees fewer tourists and has undergone less restoration work. Standing on top of the wall allows for a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside , which is planted with fruit and chestnut orchards, and dotted with old pine.

The Mutianyu Great Wall winds 22 km through lofty mountains and high ridges, many sections of which were made of granite. The unique structure makes the wall almost indestructible. It measures 7 to 8 meters high and 4 to 5 meters wide. Both of the wall’s inner and outer sides have parapets to defend against enemies coming from the two sides. Some parapets are saw, tooth shaped instead of the regular rectangular form. Below the parapets, there are square embrasures,the top of which are designed in an arc structure, different from the traditional round embrasures. Both the inner and outer parapets of the Mutianyu Great Wall are crenellated with merlons, a feature quite rare among sections of the Great Wall.

The Mutianyu Great Wall has 22 watch towers distributed at close intervals along the wall. They are located not only in the main wall but also at the distinctive “branch cities”. Branch cities are built on the hill ridge against the inner or outer side of the wall. They measure from several yards to dozens of yards across. On the northwest over 3,281-feet hills, lies a section of the wall called “Ox Horn Edge”. On the steep and lofty peaks, there are two walls named “Flying Eagle Flies Facing Upward” and “Arrow Lock”. What is more rarely seen on the southeast side is a general gateway platform guarded by three watch towers together. In locations of strategic importance, batteries are set up to reinforce the defense capabilities. Mutianyu Great Wall really deserves to be the archetype of the Ten-Thousand-Li Great Wall.

Besides its strategically important location and compact layout, the Mutianyu Great Wall is also famous for the breath-taking beautiful scenery. Woods cover over ninety-six percent of the total scenic area. The wall presents different aspects of beauty in the four seasons. Flowers bloom all over the mountains in spring. Grasses dress the hillside green in summer. Trees are laden with sweet fruits in autumn, and especially in October, leaves are turning red or yellow, touching the mountain tops with gold. In winter, the wall is covered by snow, making it seem more magnificent. The pine trees around the wall are well-known. There are more than 20 pines over 300 years old and about 200 pines over 100 years old. Besides, spring water at the foot of the wall tastes pure and fragrant, much appreciated by visitors.

Mutianyu Great Wall was restored between 1983-1986 and opened to public on May Day in 1986, the second Great Wall site opened to tourists after Badaling. Mutianyu Great Wall passes through beautiful forested hills with streams.

Mutianyu Great Wall  

 

 Forbidden City 故宫 (gùgōng)

Ringed by a 52m-wide moat at the very heart of Běijīng, the Forbidden City is China’s largest and best-preserved collection of ancient buildings, and the largest palace complex in the world. So called because it was off limits for 500 years, when it was steeped in stultifying ritual and Byzantine regal protocol, the otherworldly palace was the reclusive home to two dynasties of imperial rule until the Republic overthrew the last Qing emperor. It's a Unesco World Heritage–listed site since 1987.

Today, the Forbidden City is prosaically known as the Palace Museum (故宫博物馆; Gùgōng Bówùguǎn), although most Chinese people simply call it Gù Gōng (故宫; ancient palace).

Tourists must enter through Gate Meridian, a massive U-shaped portal at the south end of the complex, which in former times was reserved for the use of the emperor. Gongs and bells would sound imperial comings and goings, while lesser mortals used lesser gates: the military used the west gate, civilians the east gate. The emperor also reviewed his armies from here, passed judgement on prisoners, announced the new year’s calendar and oversaw the flogging of troublesome ministers. Up top is the Meridian Gate Gallery, which hosts temporary cultural exhibitions for both traditional Chinese arts and from abroad.

Through the Meridian Gate, you enter an enormous courtyard, and cross the Golden Stream (金水; Jīn Shuǐ) – shaped to resemble a Tartar bow and spanned by five marble bridges – on your way to the magnificent Gate of Supreme Harmony. This courtyard could hold an imperial audience of 100,000 people. For an idea of the size of the restoration challenge, note how the crumbling courtyard stones are stuffed with dry weeds, especially on the periphery.

First Side Galleries

Before you pass through the Gate of Supreme Harmony to reach the Forbidden City’s star attractions, veer off to the east and west of the huge courtyard to visit the Calligraphy and Painting Gallery inside the Hall of Martial Valor and the particularly good Ceramics Gallery, housed inside the creaking Hall of Literary Glory.

Three Great Halls

Raised on a three-tier marble terrace with balustrades are the Three Great Halls, the glorious heart of the Forbidden City. The recently restored Hall of Supreme Harmony is the most important and largest structure in the Forbidden City. Built in the 15th century and restored in the 17th century, it was used for ceremonial occasions, such as the emperor’s birthday, the nomination of military leaders and coronations. Inside the Hall of Supreme Harmony is a richly decorated Dragon Throne (龙椅; Lóngyǐ), from which the emperor would preside over trembling officials. The entire court had to touch the floor nine times with their foreheads (the custom known as kowtowing) in the emperor’s presence. At the back of the throne is a carved Xumishan, the Buddhist paradise, signifying the throne’s supremacy.

Behind the Hall of Supreme Harmony is the smaller Hall of Middle Harmony, which was used as the emperor’s transit lounge. Here he would make last-minute preparations, rehearse speeches and receive close ministers. On display are two Qing-dynasty sedan chairs, the emperor’s mode of transport around the Forbidden City. The last of the Qing emperors, Puyi, used a bicycle and altered a few features of the palace grounds to make it easier to get around.

The third of the Great Halls is the Hall of Preserving Harmony, used for banquets and later for imperial examinations. The hall has no support pillars. To its rear is a 250-tonne marble imperial carriageway carved with dragons and clouds, which was transported into Běijīng on an ice path. The emperor used to be carried over this carriageway in his sedan chair as he ascended or descended the terrace. The outer housing surrounding the Three Great Halls was used for storing gold, silver, silks, carpets and other treasures.

A string of side halls on the eastern and western flanks of the Three Great Halls usually, but not always, house a series of excellent exhibitions, ranging from scientific instruments and articles of daily use to objects presented to the emperor by visiting dignitaries. One contains an interesting diorama of the whole complex.

Lesser Central Halls

The basic configuration of the Three Great Halls is echoed by the next group of buildings. Smaller in scale, these buildings were more important in terms of real power, which in China traditionally lies at the back door.

The first structure is the Palace of Heavenly Purity, a residence of Ming and early Qing emperors, and later an audience hall for receiving foreign envoys and high officials.

Immediately behind it is the Hall of Union, which contains a clepsydra – a water clock made in 1745 with five bronze vessels and a calibrated scale. There’s also a mechanical clock built in 1797 and a collection of imperial jade seals on display. The Palace of Earthly Tranquillity was the imperial couple’s bridal chamber and the centre of operations for the palace harem.

Imperial Garden

At the northern end of the Forbidden City is the Imperial Garden, a classical Chinese garden with 7000 sq metres of fine landscaping, including rockeries, walkways, pavilions and ancient cypresses. Before you reach the Gate of Divine Prowess, the Forbidden City’s north exit, and Shùnzhēn Gate, which leads to it, note the pair of bronze elephants whose front knees bend in an anatomically impossible fashion, signifying the power of the emperor; even elephants would kowtow before him.

Treasure Gallery

In the northeastern corner of the complex is a mini Forbidden City known as the Treasure Gallery, or Complete Palace of Peace and Longevity (宁寿全宫; Níng Shǒu Quán Gōng). During the Ming Dynasty, the Empress Dowager and the imperial concubines lived here. Today it comprises a number of atmospheric halls, pavilions, gardens and courtyard buildings that hold a collection of fine museums.

The complex is entered from the south – not far from the Clock Exhibition Hall. Just inside the entrance, you’ll find the beautiful glazed Nine Dragon Screen, one of only three of its type left in China.

Visitors then work their way north, exploring a number of peaceful halls and courtyards before being popped out at the northern end of the Forbidden City. Don’t miss the Pavilion of Cheerful Melodies, a three-storey wooden opera house, which was the palace’s largest theatre. Note the trap doors that allowed actors to make dramatic stage entrances.

Western & Eastern Palaces

A dozen smaller palace courtyards lie to the west and east of the three lesser central halls. It was in these smaller courtyard buildings that most of the emperors actually lived and many of the buildings, particularly those to the west, are decked out in imperial furniture. Those that are open to the public have cultural exhibitions displaying anything from temple musical instruments, to ceremonial bronze vessels and ceramics.

Forbidden City 

 

Hangzhou – Buddhist temple

 

West Lake Hangzhou

West Lake, Hangzhou 

West Lake located in Hangzhou has been a tourist destination for centuries. Ancient scholars felt West Lake was one of the most important sites to visit, and they felt that they had not seen anything, if they had not seen West Lake. Because of its history many legends have formed surrounding West Lake. The majority of these West Lake legends are tragic love stories.

 

Creation Legend:

Even the lake itself has its own creation legend. The legend of the creation of West Lake has been retold and adapted through countless centuries. It is said that untold millennia ago the Jade Dragon, and Gold Phoenix had discovered a piece of pure white jade on the fairyland along the Silver River in the heaven. After many years of continual laboring, they transformed it into a perfect jade ball. Anywhere the jade ball shined, green trees and blooming flowers would sprout up. When the news of this precious treasure reached the ears of the Heavenly Empress's ear, she desired to possess it. She ordered her generals to acquire the jade ball for her. When the Jade Dragon and Gold Phoenix demanded the ball back, a huge battle ensued. During the battle the jade ball was dropped to the earth, where it turned into the crystal clear West Lake and Phoenix Mountain. Ever since the battle, Phoenix Mountain has kept a watch over the beautiful jade ball.

The Legend of Lady White Snake:

The legend of Lady White Snake is one of West Lake's most famous legends. It tells of two snakes, one white and the other green. The snakes after studying magic for thousands of years finally managed to transform themselves into beautiful women. Once they had succeeded in transforming themselves, they wanted to celebrate their accomplishment by taking a stroll as a woman and her maid around West Lake. During their stroll, it began to rain and the two huddled under a tree near Broken Bridge to get out of the rain. Not long after a handsome young scholar named XuXian walked past. Upon seeing the two women huddling under the tree, he offered his umbrella to Lady White Snake and her maid. The couple soon fell in love and married afterwards. After their marriage, the couple started their own medicine and herb shop. Since Lady White Snake had magic powers, she could diagnose their patient's illnesses and prescribe medicine immediately.

One day when Lady White Snake was out delivering medicines to the countryside, a monk named Fahai stopped by their shop and told XuXian that he was married to a demon who would one day devour him. He asked XuXian to visit him at the Gold Mountain Temple, where he imprisoned him later. Lady White Snake upon her return to their shop found her husband missing. She waited for him for many days unable to sleep or eat. She finally discovered that he had been imprisoned by the evil Fahai. She demanded that Fahai release her husband, and the evil monk insisted that since she was not truly human she was the evil one and he would destroy her. A huge battle raged between the monk and Lady White Snake. In the end, the monk managed to trap Lady White Snake in a golden alms bowl, where she was forced to admit defeat. The evil monk imprisoned Lady White Snake in the Leifeng Pagoda and declared that not until the lake dried up, or the pagoda falls will she be released. The Leifeng Pagoda did collapse in 1924 and some witness's claimed that upon its collapse a young maid was seen helping a beautiful woman out of the rubble. Currently, a new pagoda built in 2000 stands on the original site.

There are many legends associated with Hangzhou's West Lake. It is a beautiful area dotted with pagodas, pavilions and temples. It is easy to see why such a place has inspired many legends. It is a place which inspires with its beauty.

 

Inkstone

Chinese Calligraphy Inkstone 

An inkstone (砚,砚台) is literally a stone mortar for the grinding and containment of ink. Traditional Chinese ink was usually solidified into sticks for easier transport and preservation. Even a small amount of water could be applied to the end of a stick of ink, and that end would be ground with the flat surface of the ink stone. A larger quantity of ink could be ground from a small pool of water placed on the inkstone. Water could be stored in a water-holding cavity on the inkstone itself, as was the case for many Song Dynasty (960-1279) inkstones. The water-holding cavity or water reservoir in time became an ink reservoir for later inkstones. Water was usually kept in a ceramic container and sprinkled on the inkstone.

The inkstone is Chinese in origin and is used in East Asian calligraphy and painting, and other forms of brush painting. Extant inkstones date from antiquity in China. However, the true age of inkstones began in the Tang Dynasty (618-905) and reached its height in the Song period. Extant Song period inkstones can be of great size and often display a delicacy of carving. Song inkstones can also exhibit a roughness in their finishing. Dragon designs in the Song period often reveal an almost humorous rendition; the dragons often seem to smile. From the subsequent Yuan period, in contrast, dragons display a ferocious appearance. A second great age of inkstone manufacture was during the reign of the Emperor Qianlong (Ch'ien-lung) (1736-1796). The Emperor Qianlong had his own imperial collection of inkstones catalogued into a twenty-four chapter compendium entitled Xiqing yanpu (Hsi-ch'ing yen-p'u). Many of these inkstones are still extant in the Palace Museum collection in Taiwan.

For serious calligraphers and painters, a good inkstone is as important as the quality of the ink. An inkstone will affect the quality and texture of the ink that is ground upon it. Four kinds of inkstones are especially noted in inkstone art history and are popularly known as the "Four Famous Inkstones":

The first is Duanshi stone (端石砚) from Duanxi, Guangdong. Duan stone is a volcanic tuff, commonly of a purple to a purple-red color. There are various distinctive markings such as eyes that were traditionally valued in the stone. A green variety of the stone was mined in the Song period. Duan inkstones are carefully categorized by the mines (k'eng) from which the raw stone was excavated. Particular mines were open only for discrete periods in history. For example, the Mazukeng mine was originally opened in the Qianlong period (1736-1795), although reopened in modern times.

She stone (歙砚) from She County, Anhui. This stone is a variety of slate and like Duan stone is categorized by the various mines from which the stone was obtained historically. It is a black color and displays a variety of celebrated gold-like markings. These inkstones likewise date from the late Tang period.

Of great rarity is Tao River stone (洮河砚) from South Gansu. This stone is no longer found today and was gathered from a river bottom in the Song period. The stone is crystalline and like jade. The stone bears distinct markings such as bands of varying shades. This stone can be easily confused with Duan stone of the green variety, but can be distinguished by a careful observation of its crystalline nature.

Chengni ceramic stone (澄泥砚) is a ceramic-manufactured inkstone. This process was begun in the Tang period and is said to have originated in Luoyang, Henan.

 

Yonghe Lamasery

(Harmony and Peace Palace Lamasery)

Yonghe Lamasery is located at the northeast corner of Beijing City, considered as the largest and most perfectly preserved lamasery in present day China.

 

Built initially in 1694 during the Qing Dynasty, this building was the residence of Emperor Yongzheng when he was just a prince. However, in 1744 the Qing Dynasty formally changed the status of the dwelling to that of a lamasery, and so it became the national centre of Lama administration.

On arrival at the south end, the visitor will enter a yard which contains a screen wall and three Paifangs (Gateways), and will observe the red walls and stone lions, symbols which show that it was originally the dwelling of an Imperial Family member. Entering north from the Gateways, the visitor will be confronted by a wide straight road which was used for the carriages of the emperors and their wives during the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911). At the northern end of this road is Zhaotaimen (Gate of Peace Declaration), which comprises three large archways, the central one of which was for the exclusive use of the emperors.

 

Passing through Zhaotai Gate the visitor will enter the second yard which contains a Drum Tower on the western side and a Bell tower on the eastern side, and in front of these towers are two octagonal Stele Pavilions. Words by Emperor Qianlong were carved in the stele explaining the traditional and historical reasons that dwellings formerly used by Imperial Family members must later be changed to temples.

 

Yonghe Gate, originally the main entrance to the Yonghe Lamasery, is now called Devaraja Hall (Hall of the Heavenly Kings), as there are the statues of four very powerful Heavenly Kings located on both sides of the inner palace walls. The northern Heavenly King on the eastern side holds a snake and treasures; the southern King on the eastern side holds an umbrella and a silver mouse; the southern one on the western side holds a sword and the northern one on the western side holds a Pipa (a musical instrument used in ancient China). Located in the centre of the Palace is a smiling Maitreya.

 

On departing Devaraja Hall the visitor will immediately observe an ancient copper cooking vessel made in 1747 during the Qing Dynasty. This vessel, which appears to be black with white marble stone as its seat, has high artistic value and is among 'the three rarest things in Beijing'. Six doors are inset into the upper part of the vessel, with two dragons playing with a ball cast on the doors, and there are three lions playing with a ball engraved on the seat. On the northern side of the vessel is the Great Stele Pavilion with the doors open on each of its four sides. Words by Emperor Qianlong of Qing in the stele inform of the origin and meaning of Lamaism. To the north of this Pavilion is an odd-shaped hill called Xuyu Hill, a sacred place of rich religious meaning which was built in the middle of a pool, and represents a place to which all Buddhists are eager to go.

 

Hall of Harmony and Peace (Yonghegong) is the main palace and inside three bronze Buddhas are displayed - Sakyamuni in the middle, Kasyapa-matanga on the right and Maitreya on the left. There are 18 Arhats (statues of Buddha disciples) positioned on both sides of the Hall. The picture on the west wall is of Avalokitesvara with its thousands of hands and eyes.

 

North of the Hall of Harmony and Peace is Yongyoudian (Hall of Everlasting Protection), which was Emperor Yongzheng's living room when he lived there as a young prince and, at the time of his death his coffin was placed there. Now, a statue of Bhaisajya-guru is located there and sacrificial offerings are made to it.

 

From Yongyoudian continue north to the Falundian (Hall of the Wheel of the Law), which is the location for Lamas reading scriptures and holding Buddhist ceremonies. The Falundian comprises very special features as its structure contains the architectural styles of both Tibetan and Han Nationalities. It was formerly the dwelling of the Emperor's wives. A large statue of Tsong Kha-pa, an ancestor of Lamaism is displayed here in the centre of the Hall and also receives sacrificial offerings. Behind this statue is an Arhat Hill containing 500 Arhats made of five kinds of metals--gold, silver, copper, iron and tin. These Arhats have been shaped in different poses. In front of this Hill is a wooden basin which was said to have been used for washing the body of Emperor Qianlong three days after his birth. Elegant large frescos illustrating the life of Sakyamuni stretch around both the east and west walls.

 

Wanfuge (Pavilion of Ten Thousand Happinesses) is the last formal palace to be visited in Yonghe Lamasery. This is the highest palace because it is three stories high. Inside this pavilion there are tens of thousands of Buddhas displayed along every level, and in the centre there is an enormous statue of Maitreya positioned on a white marble base.

 

Temple of Earth

The Temple of Earth is a solemn and elegant royal temple. It is also the place where royal families offer sacrifices. Besides, it is also the largest temple where people make sacrifice to the God of Earth.

The Temple of Earth is also known as Fangze Temple, which was built in 1530. Reportedly, there were 14 emperors offered sacrifices to the God of Earth for 381 years until the Qing Dynasty was overthrown. In 1925, the Temple of Earth was open to public as a park. The temple covers an area of 37.4 hectares and is shaped like a square. The layout of the temple is totally in accordance with Chinese traditional beliefs such as the “Heaven is round and the earth is square” and etc. At present, there stands the Fangze Temple, Huangdi Hall, Animal Hall, Food Hall and God Hall in the Temple of Earth.

Reportedly, there are 116 different kinds of plants in the Temple of Earth Park, which occupies an area of 114,000 square meters. The urban green coverage rate accounts for 72%. There are 168 ancient trees with over one hundred years and more than 80 trees with more than 300 years.

Temple Fair

Since 1985, Spring Festival Temple Fair has been held in the Temple of Earth. Usually, the temple fair will start from the last day of the previous year to the seventh day of the first lunar month. During the fair, there will be various cultural performances. Many folk cultures have been well preserved through the temple fair.

Temple of Earth 

 

Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven is considered the most holy of Beijing's imperial temples. It has been described as "a masterpiece of architecture and landscape design".

The Temple of Heaven has also been listed as World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.

The Temple of Heaven was built in the Ming Dynasty (AD 1420) by the emperor Zhu Di in the royal garden. Once a year, at winter solstice, the emperors came here to worship Heaven and to solemnly pray for a good harvest.

Since his rule was legitimized by a perceived mandate from Heaven, a bad harvest could be interpreted as his fall from Heaven's favor and threaten the stability of his reign. So, it was not without a measure of self-interest that the emperor fervently prayed for a very good crop.

In line with the Confucianist revival during the Ming dynasty, the sacred harvest ceremony was combined with the emperor's worship of his ancestors.

According to the Confucian pattern of social organization, just as the emperor respected his ancestors, so a younger brother should respect an elder brother, a wife her husband, a son his father, and a nation's subjects their ruler.

Incorporating ancestor worship within the most solemn ceremony of the imperial ritual calendar indirectly reinforced the social philosophy that preserved the emperor's power.

The Mystical Design

The design of the Temple of Heaven complex, true to its sacred purpose, reflects the mystical cosmological laws believed to be central to the workings of the universe. Both the overall arrangement and the buildings themselves reflect the relationship between sky and earth, the core of understanding of the Universe at that time.

Hence, complex numerological permutations operate within its design. For example, because the number nine was considered to be the most powerful, the slabs forming the Circular Altar have been laid in multiples of nine.

Similarly, within the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest, the interior twenty-eight columns are divided into four central pillars to represent the seasons, twelve inner columns to represent the months, and twelve outer columns to represent the two hour sections that make up a day. There are many such examples of this intense numerology at play. Another interesting fact is that the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest is built completely without nails.

Temple of Heaven 

 

White Cloud Temple

(Baiyun Taoist Temple)

Being one of the three "ancestral courts" of the Quanzhen Sect of Taoism, it is located on the east side of Baiyun Road, Fuxingmenwai Street, Xicheng District. It was built in 739 and went through three big renovations – in 1706, 1714 and 1886. The architecture seen today is mainly from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties. The Center of the Chinese Taoist Association, founded in 1958, is also located in the temple. Nowadays, it attracts pilgrims and tourists from all over the world. The Spring Festival Fair and celebration at it is also a wonderful place to find out about Chinese culture and tradition.

Architecture

It has various halls which house the gods of Taoism. The buildings complex, arranged generally in a straight line, can be divided into three groups, the middle section, the east section and the west section. At the back you will find a beautiful garden.

The Middle Section

The middle section includes the main buildings which contain over 50 halls, spanning an area of about 2 hectares. You enter the grounds through a gate in the outside wall and then walk through the large gateway that leads to the gate. Beyond the gate are Wofeng Bridge, Lingguan Hall, Yuhuang Hall, Qiuzu Hall, and other buildings.

The stone gate has three portals, delicately engraved with clouds, cranes, and flowers. The monkey hidden in reliefs beside the middle portal deserves a mention here: it is said that the monkey is the incarnation of a god; thus, visitors to it always touch the monkey for good luck. There are three stone monkeys located at different places in it. If you are interested, go and search for them. It is believed that if you have touched all three monkeys your wishes will come true.

Entering the gate, you will see a single-span stone bridge named Wofeng Bridge (Wofeng means stopping the wind). A copper coin is hung on both sides of the bridge and in the square hole of the coin there is a bell. What is the reason for this? People believe that if the coin they tossed hits the bell, everything will go well for them in the coming year. Come and have a try, and good luck will follow you.

Walking across the bridge, Lingguan Hall is the first hall that you will see. Lingguan Hall houses Wang Lingguan, the guarding deity of Taoism. The wooden statue of the god was sculptured during the Ming Dynasty, and is about 1.2 meters (3.9 feet) high, radiating an air of dignity and grandeur. As you walk on, you will see other halls.

Yuhuang Hall (the Jade Emperor Hall) is where the Jade Emperor is worshiped. The 1.8 meter (5.9 feet) high wooden statue was also carved during the Ming Dynasty. To the right and left of the statue of the Jade Emperor are six bronze statues – they are the emperor’s officers and servants. Paintings on the wall were drawn during the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

Laolu Hall (Laolu means commandments), originally named Qizhen Hall (Qizhen refers to seven people), is the place where the seven disciples of the founder of the Quanzhen Sect of Taoism are worshiped. In the Qing Dynasty, a famous Taoist lectured here on the subject of Taoism and commandments, thus the hall acquired its new name. Religious activities are held in Laolu Hall, and it is also the place where people gather to chant Taoist sutras.

Qiuzu Hall is dedicated to Qiu Chuji, the founder of the Longmen branch of the Quanzhen sect. At the center of the hall is a huge wooden bowl which was granted by the Emperor Yongzheng of the Qing Dynasty. It is said that when Taoists in it suffered from famine, they would carry the bowl to the Imperial Palace to ask for help. After Qiu Chuji’s death, his ashes were buried under the bowl. Inscriptions on the tablets in the hall record important events in the history of it.

Among all the halls, only one hall has two floors. The first floor is dedicated to the god Sanqing and on the second floor four other gods – the main assistants of the Jade Emperor – are worshiped. In front of the hall, a gilded copper incense burner is seated. It was cast in the Ming Dynasty and is delicately engraved with 43 dragons.

The West Section

In the west section you will find the statue of the divine animal Te, Citang Hall, Baxian Hall, Luzu Hall and other halls.

The statue of the divine animal Te will greet you when you enter the west section. Te has a mule's body, a donkey's face, the ears of a horse and the hooves of a cow. Legend has it that Te can cure any illness. If a person is unwell, he could touch his own body where he feels discomfort or sickness and then touch the same part of Te, and he will recover from the disease and be cured.

Citang Hall, built in 1706, is where the statue of the Taoist Wang Changyue is housed. Inscriptions carved in the stone in the wall are the treasure of it.

The East Section

You will find Sanxing Hall, Cihang Hall, Zhenwu Hall and Leizu Hall in the east section of the grounds. Sanxing Hall is the hall dedicated to the great doctor Hua Tuo who lived during the Eastern Han dynasty (25-220); Cihang Hall is the place of worship for the God of Fire; Zhenwu Hall is where God Zhenwu is housed; and Leizu Hall is where the gods who master the changing of the weather are worshiped.

The Backyard

Yunji Garden is at the back. In the center of the garden are the altar, where commandments and rules are taught, and Yunji Hall where Taoist sutras are preached.

 

White Cloud Temple - Qiu Zu Deity Hall

The Life of Patriarch Qiu Chuji

 

Qiu Chuji ( 丘處機祖師 Qiu Chuji Zushi ) (1148-1227) from Xixia of Dengzhou (in today's Shandong province) was also named Qiu Tongmi, and had the Daoist name Changchunzi. He became a Daoist at the age of 19, and the next year revered Wang Chongyang as his master. Qiu ascetically cultivated Dao for thirteen years in Panxi and Longmen by living in caves or by begging for food, wearing a palm-bark cape everyday. So he was called 'Palm-Bark Cape Gentleman' ( 蓑衣先生 Suoyi Xiansheng ). In the 28th year of Dading (1188) he was called in to the royal palace by Emperor Shizong of the Jin dynasty, and consequently became famous. In the 14th year of the first Yuan emperor (1219), Emperor Taizu sent messenger official Liu Zhonglu for Qiu. The next year, after Qiu went to the Western Regions with eighteen of his disciples, he was revered as "Immortal", and the Emperor conferred him the title 'Patriarch' ( 宗師 Zongshi ) in charge of religions over the country. After his ascending to the rosy clouds, Emperor Shizu conferred him the title 'Perfect Man Changchun, Daoist Preacher and Leader ( 長春演道主教真人 Changchun Yandao Zhujiao Zhenren ). During his life, Qiu instituted the Dragon Gate Sect ( 龍門派 Longmen Pai ) of the Complete Perfection Tradition ( 全真道 Quanzhen Dao ).

Qiu's Thought

Qiu followed the essence of Wang Chongyang's thought with his unique elaboration, advocating that Daoists should lead an ascetic personal life and benefit other people, do good deeds, and cultivate their virtue. He hoped that the outer practice of Dao by doing benevolent deeds could contribute to inner cultivation, in order to finally attain the goal of the Golden Elixir for immortality. Through the elaborations of his disciples, his ideas and thought developed into a systematic theory of mind and spiritual essence centered on Dao and the Heavenly Dao, which was aimed at returning to the origin of one's invariable mind and constant spiritual nature. Moreover, Qiu paved the two independent and complementary ways of inner cultivation of mind and spiritual essence as well as outer practice of Dao by doing good deeds in order to realize Dao.

 

The Taoist monk who pacified Genghis Khan

 

" … The power in yoga means the power to extinguish one's anger like that of taming a wild tiger, for instance. It means the will to overcome temptation and thereby altering the mental state of one who may approach a yogi with passionate thought.

 

It is the power of Buddha whereby he converts Angulimala , the dreaded robber who cut off his victims' fingers and wore them as a necklace round his neck. The Buddha walks into the robber's lair and says "Come along, monk!" and helps transform the marauder into a monk instantly. The latter follows him like a tiger that has been tamed. That is true power.

 

The power of yoga is that of ahimsa whereby one abandons in all possible manner, at all times, towards all beings, any inclination to hurt or harm. With that power one may approach two combating armies, stand between them and through sheer power of presence, make them lay down their arms. Alexander had massacred many in battle during his conquests. Yet, he gave up violence after meeting with monks who advocated ahimsa.

 

Chengiz Khan established a large empire by sheer force of violence. When he reached what is now called Afghanistan, he began to have doubts; he questioned the meaning of his life. He invited a Taoist master to talk to him.

 

The Taoist master's spiritual guidance convinced Chengiz Khan to stop his conquests and instead, set about consolidating what he had, peacefully. There is a painting depicting this in a Taoist temple in Beijing. ... "

 

" ... In the winter of 1219, Genghis Khan of Mongolia sent Zhaba'er and Liu Zhonglu, carrying an imperial edict with them, from the Naiman State in the Western Region for Qiu Chuji. Qiu Chuji knew that the Mongolian army had been notorious for its ruthless killing. In order to dissuade this army from brutal massacres and running amock, he willingly accepted Genghis Khan's invitation. In the second lunar month in the early spring of the next year, Qiu Chuji took 18 of his disciples along to embark upon their westward journey to prevent the killing.

Qiu Chuji stayed in Yanjing, Dexing Prefecture, Xuande Prefecture and other places for one year before he went out of the Pass and headed west in 1221. On his departure, people stopped his horse and asked about his date of return. He replied with emotion, "Within three years".

Qiu Chuji and his companions went west out of the Juyong Pass, passed through today's Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, and Central Asia, traveled across desolate prairies and deserts, precipitous mountains and ridges, and came to the city of Samarkand for the winter.

I In 1222, Qiu Chuji finally arrived at Genghis Khan's temporary abode. Genghis Khan rose to greet Qiu Chuji, while the latter folded his hands and made deep bows in return. Genghis Khan called Qiu Chuji an "immortal", and asked whether there existed means of extending life. Qiu answered, "There are only ways of nourishing life, but no elixir of obtaining immortality." Genghis Khan expressed appreciation for his frankness.

I In the following better part of a year, Genghis Khan often consulted Qiu Chuji on Daoism. Qiu Chuji pointed out that Heaven treasures life and disapproves of killing, and explained the principles that honoring Heaven and loving people were the foundation of governing people, and that having a pure heart and few worldly desires was the essential of nourishing life. Genghis Khan showed great consent. He ordered Yelu Chucai to compile their talks into the Record of the Auspicious Gathering with Daoists and educated his descendants with it.

Qiu Chuji took leave in 1223. Before long Genghis Khan ceased his western expedition. Afterwards, the strong Mongolian cavalry went down south massively and defeated the troops of the Jin dynasty with crushing force. The Mongolian soldiers had always been plunderous and bloodthirsty. However, thanks to Qiu Chuji's sermon of "no killing" and the protection from the Complete Perfection tradition, the people in dozens of prefectures and commanderies in the area of the Central Plain escaped severe suffering.

 

In his seventies, braving sand storm and severe cold, hardships and dangers, Qiu Chuji had traveled long distances to meet Genghis Khan. He "stopped the killing just with a few words", thus saving the common people from the ravages of war. Qiu Chuji's achievements will be remembered forever. Moved by his deeds, Emperor Qianlong of the Qing dynasty wrote an antithetical couplet: "Living forever, but without eating clouds or pursuing secret instructions; one word to stop killing, which proves his outstanding merits in benefiting mankind ... "