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Shrine to the Jade Emperor and Lord Guan (Yuhuang, Guan Gong Miao 玉皇、關公廟) Taubes, Hannibal


The temple to the Jade Emperor (Yuhuang Dadi 玉皇大帝) and Lord Guan (Guan gong 關公) in Peach-Garden Slope Hollow Village (Taoyuanzegou Cun 桃園則溝村), Jia County (Jia Xian 佳縣), Shaanxi 陝西 Province, is a relatively typical village temple (miao 廟) for this area. The building consists of two arched stone and mortar chambers opening to the south, faced across a small plaza by a now-remodeled opera stage. The eastern hall is devoted to the Jade Emperor. According to the Zheng 鄭 family artists of Hou Zhengjiagou Village (Hou Zhengjiagou Cun 後鄭家溝村), also in Jia County, the standard iconography of the Jade Emperor today depicts the Thirty-Three Heavens (Sanshisan tian 三十三天), the Twenty-Eight Astral Mansions (Ershiba su 二十八宿), and the Nine Celestial Bodies (Jiu yao 九耀). There are, however, 108 deities bearing wu-boards 笏 in the image, plus the Jade Emperor, four attendants, and four standard-bearers; thus it seems possible that instead the image depicts the thirty-six heavenly spirits and seventy-two earthly demons (Tiangang Disha 天罡地煞). The outer parts of the image show the gods of the Earth and the Mountains (Tudi shen, Shan shen 土地神、山神), as well as the Dragon Kings (Long Wang 龍王) riding out and back to dispense rain at the Jade Emperor's order. The western chamber is devoted to Lord Guan. The rear wall shows the deity seated in state. The two side walls show panels depicting an unusual series of miracle-tales. One of these appears to involve the ‘Monkey King’ Sun Wukong 孫悟空, while another one tells the tale of a daughter of the Jin 金 family who feeds her mother-in-law manure-cakes, and is transformed into a dog by Lord Guan for her lack of filiality. Another caption reads, ‘[Lord Guan] grants speedy recompense when invested with title by the Jiaqing Emperor of the Qing Dynasty’ (Qing Jiaqing chifeng subao 清嘉慶敕封速報). This investiture took place in 1813, providing a terminus post quem date for the otherwise undated mural. The captions read as follows. East inner wall, bottom row, left to right: 金氏女糞餅貢母, 帝君廟金氏化犬, 關聖帝大破孤[獨?]. Second row, right to left: 南海帶回魚保兒, 合夥?寇?邀魚盡?食, 周爺?顯聖退妖寇. Third row, left to right: 關聖帝木刀斬囚, 關公顯聖玉泉山, 關聖帝彭城敵水. Top row, right to left: [none], [none], 魚保母子謝帝恩, [ ]果山上修真道/[ ]牛宮裡顯神道. West inner wall, lowest row, left to right: 清烈[ ][ ]墓[ ][ ], 殺墓臧?周爺顯聖, 破[ ]精杜元[ ]死. Second row (from bottom), right to left: 清嘉慶敕封速報, 關聖夢中點化張翰, 五鳳樓[ ]拿刺客. Third row, left to right: 關聖帝速報呂蒙, 關聖帝大破牟?牛, 關聖帝[?]退邀路. Top row, right to left: [ ]行者丹?樓顯化, 虎求山雷劈周桃, [none], 關平顯化救陶母. The walls of the outer entry-arch contain more standard images drawn from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguo yanyi 三國演義) story: East outer wall, top to bottom, left to right: 桃園結義, [ ][ ][ ][ ], 呂布夜刺丁建陽, 曹孟德獻劍, 劉關張三戰呂布, 力斬華雄. West outer wall, top to bottom, left to right: [ ][ ]黃[ ], [ ][ ][ ][ ], 曹公賜馬, 霸橋餞行, 夜戰馬超, 單刀赴會. As is common in this area, both halls have ceiling-arches painted with images of the Eight Trigrams and Yin-Yang (Yin-Yang bagua 陰陽八卦). A stele outside from 1903 recounts the recovery of the village after the Great Northwestern Rebellion (Xibei da qiyi 西北大起義) in the Tongzhi reign (1861-1875), but it says nothing about the temple or the murals.

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