Temple of the Five Immortals (Guangzhou)
|Temple of the Five Immortals|
|Literal meaning||5 Immortals Abbey|
|Grotto of the 5 Immortals|
The Temple of the Five Immortals, formerly translated as the Temple of the Five Genii, is a Taoist temple in Guangzhou, Guangdong, in China. It lies beside the junction of West Huifu Road and Liurong Rd. It is usually open to tourists daily from 9–12 in the morning and from 1:30–5 in the afternoon.
The five immortals honored by the temple are first attested in a passage of the 983 Taiping Imperial Readings (太平御覽) explaining Guangzhou's nickname "City of the Rams". One of the etiological myths given is that
At one time, Sun Hao made Teng Xiu a governor but, before reaching his prefecture, there were five immortals riding five colored sheep and bearing the five grains who came upon him and, after he received them, they left. Now the prefectural hall's beams bear the five immortals riding five colored sheep for good luck.[n 1]
Later accounts of the immortals' local cult made them culture heroes who introduced rice farming to Guangzhou around the time of its founding, which occurred historically by the Qin army under Zhao Tuo in 214 BC. The immortals' clothes and the sheep were now both said to be in difference colors, connecting them with the Five Chinese Elements. The immortals continued to be worshipped as protectors of the yearly harvest. The five goats they rode to the area were said to have turned to stone when they left, forming the statues which gave Guangzhou its nickname "Goat City" or "City of the Five Rams".
An abbey and shrine to the five immortals is first attested during the early Song (c. 11th century), with rulers making sacrifices and locals offering prayer to them. The present temple was erected under the Ming in the 10th year of the Hongwu Era, either AD 1377 or 1378. Under the Qing, the site was also known as the Grotto of the Five Immortals.
Shortly after the installation of the temple's 3-meter (10 ft) high, 5-ton bell in 1378, there was an outbreak of plague in the city. Considered unlucky ever afterward, the "Forbidden Bell" has not been rung since. In the 19th century, the guardian lions at the entrance to the temple were venerated by local women seeking male children.
In 1923, the temple grounds covered 4,600 m2 (50,000 sq ft); that year, the KMT lords of the town ordered it to be sold to raise revenue for their soldiers. It was purchased by a local club, who dismissed its Taoist priests, but its site was given special protection by the municipal government. Following the opening up of China in the 1980s, the temple was renovated.
The huge bell tower dates to the Ming and the main hall before it is still done in the Ming style. The guardian lions at the entrance are centuries old and there are stylized Ming-era sculptures in back as well. A pond to the east of the hall includes a very large foot-shaped depression in red sandstone said to be the mark of one of the temple's immortals.[n 2] The present statues depict the immortals as three men and two women, all astride their goats.
A back room holds a large 1907 map of Guangzhou, showing interesting details of the imperial city and illuminating that most of the city was, at that time, still rural.
- Agriculture in Chinese mythology & Hou Ji
- The Statue of the Five Rams on Yuexiu Hill
- The Temple of the Five Immortals in Shiyan
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