Shrines to the Spirit-Official Wang and the Black Tiger at White-Cloud Mountain (Baiyunshan Wang lingguan, Heihu miao 白雲山王靈官、黑虎廟) Taubes, Hannibal
The shrines are located to either side of the ‘First Gate of Heaven’ (tou tian men 頭天門), a small entranceway flanking the long series of stairs leading up from the banks of the Yellow River to the Daoist abbey at White Cloud Mountain (baiyunshan 白雲山). The abbey complex has a very large number of shrines and buildings, but photography is forbidden in most of the shrine rooms. The majority of the abbey’s murals have been reproduced in Zhang Xiaoming 張小明 and Chai Xiaoping 柴小平 et al. eds., Zhongguo Jiaxian: Baiyunshan Baiyunguan Bihua 中國佳縣：白雲山白雲觀壁畫 (Beijing: Wenwu chubanshe, 2007). The main deity of the White Cloud Mountain complex is the Perfected Warrior (Zhenwu 真武). In northern Shaanxi province, the Perfected Warrior usually appears flanked by his two generals Spirit Official Wang (Wang Lingguan 王靈官) and the Black Tiger (Hei hu 黑虎), also known as Zhao Gongming 趙公明 or the Dark Altar (Xuantan 玄壇). The two small shrine rooms on either side of the First Gate of Heaven are dedicated to these deities, and the murals within them are unique. The murals in the hall to the Spirit Official Wang show him defeating animal-headed demons and making obeisance to the Jade Emperor (Yuhuang 玉皇) and the Perfected Warrior. The murals in the hall to the Black Tiger appear to show scenes drawn from the Romance of the Investiture of the Gods (Fengshen yanyi 封神演義), in which the deity battles Nezha 哪吒, Jiang Ziya 姜子牙, and others. The date of these murals is unclear. The White Cloud Mountain complex was founded in 1605 by a wandering Daoist monk, but the earliest mention of the ‘First Gate of Heaven’ is a stele that records its repair along with other structures in the abbey complex in 1801. The structure was refurbished again in 1831. (See Yunzi 雲子 and Li Zhenhai 李振海 eds. Baiyunshan: Duilian, Beiwen 白雲山：對聯、碑文. (No place of publication, Shannei zitu pizi 陝內資圖批字, 2002): 124-5. Both of these repair steles mention painting, and it seems likely that the present murals date from roughly this time period.
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