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

Description

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 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 western chamber is devoted to Lord Guan, and contains a relatively standard iconography for this deity; the rear wall shows the deity seated in state, while the side-walls show panel-images from the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguo yanyi 三國演義). The chamber to the Jade Emperor is to the east. 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 more likely that 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. As is common in this area, the ceiling-arch is painted with an image of the Eight Trigrams and Yin-Yang (Yin-Yang bagua 陰陽八卦). The date of this mural is uncertain, perhaps late 18th or early 19th century. 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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