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Shrines to Lord Guan, Kṣitigarbha, and the Perfected Warrior at Su and Shao Families' Fort (Sushaobu Guangong, Dizang, Zhenwu miao 蘇邵堡關公、地藏、真武廟) Taubes, Hannibal

Description

The shrines to Lord Guan (Guangong 關公), Kṣitigarbha (Dizang 地藏), and the Perfected Warrior (Zhenwu 真武) are located at the northern end of the main north-south axial road of Su and Shao Families’ Fort (Sushaobu 蘇邵堡). The extant steles in this village are reproduced in Deng Qingping 鄧慶平 ed., Yuxian beiming jilu 蔚縣碑銘輯錄 (Guilin: Guangxi shifan daxue chubanshe, 2009), 288-301. According to an inscription in the gatehouse, the walled village was founded at this location in 1545, and the temples on and beneath the northern wall are likely to have been established at this time or not long after. The earliest mention of these structures is a stele recording their refurbishment in 1756, which notes that the original date of the temples had already been forgotten by villagers at that time. Based on style, the murals in the shrine to Lord Guan should date from this 18th-century repair. The complex was repaired again in 1924, and again based on style it seems likely that the murals in the upper shrine to the Perfected Warrior were painted around this time. Both of these attributions remain uncertain, however, since neither stele gives the names of any painter-artisans. The present statues and the paintings in the Kṣitigarbha Hall were added in the 1990s. During the 1756 repair, a narrow stone-arched tunnel was dug under the base of the shrine of the Perfected Warrior to form a north gate to the fortified village. In 2014, water coursing through this tunnel during a severe rainstorm undermined the foundation of the Temple to Lord Guan and the western side of the structure collapsed, shearing the building neatly in two. Reproductions of the now-lost 18th-century murals on the west wall of this building have been incompletely published in Yuxian bowuguan 蔚縣博物館 ed., Yuzhou simiao bihua 蔚州寺廟壁畫 (Beijing keji chubanshe, 2013), 58-71. The entire complex has since been fully repaired. The temple to Lord Guan is located at ground level, facing south down the main axial street of the fort. The central (north) wall murals show Lord Guan surrounded by his allies and attendants, while the side-wall murals show scenes from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguo yanyi 三國演義) narrative. The panel cartouches read as follows; note that the captions for the west wall are derived from the incomplete reproductions in the above source. East wall, top row, right to left: 桃園結義, □破黃巾, □打督郵, 酒溫戰華雄; middle row, right to left: 三戰呂布, 土山順□, □□□□, 關公斬顏良; Bottom row, right to left: 曹丕賜馬, □橋餞別, □□□□, 臥牛山攻周倉. West wall, top row, right to left: 風雪請孔明, [not reproduced], 箭射盔纓, 獻長沙; Middle row, right to left: 威震華夏, 義釋顏宴, 單刀赴會, [not reproduced]; bottom row not reproduced. The shrine to the Perfected Warrior is a tiny attic room reached by a ladder up through a trapdoor. The central (north) wall shows the Perfected Warrior flanked by his ten generals, the Peach-Blossom Girl (Taohuanü 桃花女), and the Duke of Zhou (Zhougong 周公). The two side walls show narrative scenes from Perfected Warrior’s hagiography. The cartouches read as follows: East wall, bottom row, left to right: 夢吞日月, 五龍吐水, 太子入學; middle row, left to right: 東遇老人, 南遇病人, 西遇死人; top row, left to right: 北遇僧人, 太子離朝, 玉皇賜劍. West wall, bottom row, left to right: 猿猴指路, 劍指成河, 二虎把洞; middle row, left to right: 天神賜甲, 觀音磨針, 寡肉味鷹; top row, left to right: 牧[妝?]扶龜蛇, 怒折麽女, 五龍捀聖.

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