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White-Robes Abbey in the Great Temple of Huangfu Town (Huangfu zhen Damiao Baiyi an 黃甫鎮大廟白衣庵) Taubes, Hannibal


The White-Robes Abbey (Baiyi an 白衣庵) is one shrine within Great Temple of Huangfu Town (Huangfu zhen da miao 黃甫鎮大廟), a large complex of religious buildings that stands at the northern end of the main north-south axial road of the old walled settlement. The other main shrine within the complex is a temple to the God of Walls and Moats (Chenghuang miao 城隍廟, also known as the City God). A stele from 1654 explains that the site ‘had been from ancient times a place for seeing [one character illegible] the gods by the light of day’ (gu wei ri jian ☐ shen zhi suo 古為日見☐神之所). The White-Robes Abbey, in the text simply called ‘the main hall dedicated to Avalokiteśvara-Guanyin’ (Guanyin zhengdian 觀音正殿) was established in 1641, along with flanking shrines in the same courtyard to the Medicine-Buddha Bhaiṣajyaguru (Yaowang fo 藥王佛) and a ‘dhyāna-hall’ (chanfang 禪房) for resident monks. Although no painter’s name is given on the stele, the style and palette indicate that the murals should date from this original 17th-century construction. The shrine hall is located on the second floor of the building, and contains a central altar with a recent image of a white-robed Avalokiteśvara-Guanyin. This image is flanked on the two rear (northern) walls by murals showing the sixteen Arhats (luohan 羅漢) and the ten Vidyārājas or Wisdom-Kings (mingwang 明王). The eastern part of this northern wall shows a worshiper kneeling before the Buddhas of the Three Times (sanshi fo 三世佛) on high thrones, while the western part shows a similar image of three Buddhas being worshiped in a Pure Land (jingtu 淨土). The east and west side-walls show scenes from the life of Śākyamuṇi Buddha. The text is the same one commonly used in such murals throughout the region, derived from or at least closely related to the Ming-dynasty ‘Collected Deeds of the Origins and Miracles of the Śākya Clan’ (Shishi yuanliu yinghua shiji 釋氏源流應化事蹟). The cartouches read as follows. East wall: Bottom row, right to left: 淨飯聖王, 摩耶託夢, 樹下誕生, 仙人占相, 大赦修福, 姨母養育, 習學書數; middle row, right to left: 諸王捔力, 悉達納妃, 路逢老人, 道見病臥, 路覩死屍, 得遇沙門, 初起出家; top row, right to left: 夜半踰城, 車匿辞還, 車匿還宮, 誥問林僊, 歡請迴宮, 六年苦行, 天王獻錛. West wall: bottom row, right to left: 帝釋獻衣, 坐苦提摩, 魔軍相戰, 地神作證, 諾天讚賀, 演大華嚴, 龍宮入定; middle row, right to left: 二商奉食, 梵天勸請, 佛還觀父, 為母說法, 請佛☐滅, 囑分舍利, 付囑諸天; top row, right to left: 付囑龍王, 雙林入滅, 昇天報母, 佛母散花, 聖火自焚, 三均舍利, 遺跡造塔. A transcription of the temple stele is below; the reader should check this against the photographed original. ☐聞千年 / 佛境☐後代以增修萬載寶剎☐眾生之福田茲乃黃甫川堡北 / 城壕?內古為日見 / ☐神之所☐朝不☐之聳也於明崇禎九年與邑☐☐☐住持僧 / 土☐功德主李登☐☐如之簡民惠☐☐財☐信☐飾翻修 / 正殿☐宮山門西廂次任爵☐僧人緣☐增補☐照壁俱今 / ☐有法侄如玉與十四年東☐之外施地信士任爵功德主李 / 如☐☐新建☐☐觀音正殿三間簡公民悅創建藥王東殿三 / 間西禪堂三間王?捐☐資添?修韋馱南殿三楹僧室六間山 / 門一坐共成二院遂?觀廟貌翼然高視☐覩牆墻垣峻巡鞏固 / 聖眾金容安祭?喜笑各祠主☐滿日飲聖專祝 / 皇王聖壽萬歲帝道☐昌 / 佛日增☐法輪常轉☐增祿位民樂安康邊☐☐☐☐馬休征所 / ☐建廟立像遵崇而瞻仰之德以斯最勝之功☐☐☐☐之碑 / 記 / [long section detailing land grants belonging to the 城隍廟 and 藥王廟] / 合會施財官生鄉士眾姓軍民人等共成 / 勝事因碑終不能遂名間?具 / 昔大清順治拾壹年拾月初壹日吉旦住持僧如玉門徒☐存立

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