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Prior-Fort Monastery (Gucheng si 故城寺) Taubes, Hannibal

Description

Prior-Fortress Monastery, also called Buddha-Heart Monastery (Foxin si 佛心寺), sits just outside the east gate of Great Prior-Fortress (Dagucheng 大故城) village. The site is a ‘Major Historical and Cultural Site Protected at the National Level’ 全國重點文物保護單位, and all of the murals and steles have been published: see Hebei sheng wenwu yanjiusuo, Yuxian bowuguan 河北省文物研究所、蔚縣博物館 eds. Gucheng si bihua 故城寺壁畫 (Beijing: Keji chubanshe, 2010). The name ‘prior-fortress’ refers to the ruined walls which rise from the fields just east of here, said to be a Liao or Jin dynasty (916-1234) garrison. A plaque over the eastern village gate records its repair in 1533, indicating that the two adjacent walled settlements which make up Great Prior-Fortress have existed in something like their present form at least since the turn of the 16th century. Village tales say that the forts were built according to the body of a phoenix (fenghuang 鳳凰). The phoenix’s head was a Temple to the Three Officials (sanguan miao 三官廟) in the fields to the south of the fort, and its tail was a temple to the Three Sages (sanxian 三仙) in the fields to the north. A temple to Lord Guan (Guan gong 關公) in the center of the village was the phoenix’s heart, and the streets of the village were its five internal organs (wuzang 五臟). In this schema, Prior-Fortress Monastery was the phoenix’s eastern wing; the western wing was another monastery on the other side of the fort, now vanished. (See: Wang Zhijun 王志軍 and Tian Yongxiang 田永翔 eds. Zhongguo Yuzhou minsu wenhua jicheng: Shenhua yu chuanshuo 中國蔚州民俗文化集成:神話與傳說 [Beijing: Zhongguo xiqu chubanshe, 2012], pp. 37-8.) Only the central hall of the Prior-Fortress Monastery remains today; if there was originally a courtyard or outbuildings, these have now vanished. The monastery building is dated by a plaque hung from the rafters, which states that it was built in 1507 by members of the Jia and Fan families, under the leadership of a monk named De Jun. The text also lists a painter (danqing) named Li Han (presumably responsible for the murals), and a geomancer (yinyang) named Ren Cong. The text reads: 昔大明國山西大同府蔚州東鄉故城里故城寺德俊於正德貳年歲丁卯季秋吉旦 / 拾地功德主: 賈表 賈正 賈☐ 賈金 賈余 賈丙 范本 范果 范廣 范景善 范景邏 范景宝 范景敲? 范景榮 范景文? / 扶梁功德主:賈玘 賈勝 賈旺 賈祥 賈啟 / 丹青: 李漢 / 陰陽: 任聰 / 都料: 文恒 文子達 王欽 / 建立. A small stele set nearby reads: 蔚州東鄉故城村故城寺主持德俊仝 / 發善男信女喜拾主 / 范泉 楊氏 魏鎮 賈氏 李景貴 甄氏 魏欽 梅氏 孟方 李氏 孟礼 張氏 魏倫 安氏 ☐斌金 ☐氏 [...]. This seems to be one of a number of structurally similar monastery halls built in the area around this time, marked by nearly square floor-plans, tall ceilings, and overhanging wooden eaves. Comparable, dated buildings are found nearby at West Great-Peace Village (Xitaiping cun 西太平村, built 1482) and Liu Family East Village in adjacent Guangling County (Guangling xian Dong Liu tuan cun 廣靈縣東留疃村, built 1505-21). Today, the central statue of the monastery hall is Śākyamuni Buddha (Shijia fo 釋迦佛), flanked by two arhats and two dharma-protectors. Due to the height and narrowness of the space, it is impossible to photograph the two east-west walls in full; the smaller north and south walls are reproduced here, along with a sample of the images on the main walls. The two panels which flank the northern door showed images of the Ten Vidyārājas (shi mingwang 十明王). Of these, only the eastern panel survives. This tour-de-force composition shows the central Vidyārāja pulling open his own wrathful face to reveal a pacific Buddha beneath. The panel was plastered over during the Cultural Revolution, and the removal of the plaster has stripped the paint from the bottom half of the composition, revealing the original line-drawings beneath. All the other walls show Water-and-Land (shuilu 水陸) figures, each group annotated with the names of donors, either individuals or commercial concerns. In some cases multiple donor cartouches apply to one group of figures. The list of figures is as follows, transcribed by Chen Pei’an 陳姵安. East wall, top row, left to right: 無色界四空天眾 (大雲町 韓得祿 妻袁氏) (大雲町 姜忠義 妻李氏 姜忠國 妻段氏), 無色界四禪天眾 (大雲町 韓得印 妻李氏) (大雲町 韓得起 妻高氏 韓得福 妻王氏), 天藏王菩薩聖眾 (大雲町 韓門安氏 韓門樊氏), 梵王天主聖眾 (大雲町 樊門康氏 樊門李氏), 昊天玉皇大帝聖眾 (大雲町 李門韓氏 李門賈氏), 天皇大帝聖眾 (大雲町 樊門張氏 樊門趙氏), 持國增長大王 (大雲町 栗有旺 妻張氏), 金剛密跡聖眾 (譚輔開 張順 張見貞 張玉); second row, left to right: 中斗三台星君 (大雲町 李頎? 妻張氏), 南斗六元星君 (大雲町 韓门楊氏 韓门馬氏), 羊隻留寶瓶磨 (柳 [...]), 十二宮辰聖眾 (empty cartouche), 七十二代天師眾 (empty cartouche), 九曜天剛月孛星君 (empty cartouche), 角亢底房心尾箕眾 (empty cartouche), 斗牛女虛危室壁眾 (empty cartouche), 天地水府太陽聖眾 (empty cartouche), 天蓬天献翊聖玄云真眾, (譚輔宗 譚國龍 譚工礼 張存孝), 羅睺?計都星君 (楊成千 宋生文 李會 張存礼), 三元水府扶桑大帝 (李显宗 張相雲 張允 張煥); third row, left to right: 天曹府軍天曹掌眾 (empty cartouche), 天曹諸司主食判官 (本村 奚合意 大成店), 天曹諸司掌算判官 (本城 馬太 劉在), 年月日時四直功曹眾 (本城 劉崑 劉敏), 大羅乂羅刹女眾 (本城 裴禎 宋昌☐), 曠野大將軍等眾 (本城 尉景肉房 ☐☐☐), 般支迦大將軍等眾 (本城 范廷秀 趙東肉房), 矩畔挐神聖眾 (本城 范廷棟 祁東), 訶利帝母聖眾 (本城 宋德 白萬), 一大藥剎聖眾 (本城 瑞和永 永信成), 菩提樹神聖眾 (本城 義成錢舖 德升錢舖), 東海龍王聖眾 (本城 合成缸房 天恒缸房); bottom row, left to right: 南海龍王聖眾 (empty cartouche), 西海龍王聖眾 (...), 北海龍王聖眾 (...), 中海龍王聖眾 (...), 波池井泉龍王眾 (...), 主風主雨主雷主電 (...), 主苗主稼主病主藥 (...), 守齋護戒龍神眾 (...), 順清龍王聖眾 (...), 安濟夫人聖眾 (...), 徃古帝王一切王孫眾 (empty cartouche), 徃古后妃宮娥婇女眾 (empty cartouche). South wall, east panel, top row, left to right: 山林石怪等眾 (趙連 闫培), 徃古文武官僚眾 (九宮口 源生湧 譚國富 李進福 宋鳳祥), 軍陣殺傷等眾 (九宮口 牛登雲 譚國興 徐富 徐彩), 房倒虎咬水渰等眾 (九宮口 史進寶 徐彭 史進財 譚輔意) (九宮口 蕭象何 岳如林 李進禎 徐孝?); second row, left to right: 徃古比丘等眾 (本村 賈門耿氏 司門樊氏 司門陳氏 司門趙氏), 徃古比丘尼等眾 (本村 賈門程氏 賈門☐氏 賈門曹氏), 九流百家等眾 (本村 郭門賀氏 吳門馬氏 吳門楊氏 薛門張氏), 墮崖落馬蛇傷遠鄉等眾 (九宮口 楊中海) (本村 韓門徐氏 吳門張氏 楊門賈氏 魏門闫氏); bottom row, left to right: 徃古優婆塞眾 (本村 韓門王氏), 徃古優婆☐眾 (本村 吳门刘氏 賈门康氏), 徃古儒流等眾 (本村 賈門王氏 李門杜氏 賈門張氏 張門蕭氏), 徃古女冠道士眾 (本村 任門田氏 賈門徐氏 賈門傅氏 賀門賈氏) (本村楊門閻氏). West wall, top row, right to left: 色戒五净天 (empty cartouche), 欲界上四天眾 (empty cartouche), 西方崑崙金母眾 (empty cartouche), 太乙諸神五方五帝 (empty cartouche), 勾辰紫微聖眾 (empty cartouche), 北極大帝聖眾 (empty cartouche), 廣目多聞天王 (empty cartouche), 金剛密跡聖眾 (empty cartouche); second row, right to left: [...] (...), 西斗四聖星君 (千子村 張世緒 蘭福海), 北斗七星星君 (... 隆), 人馬天蝎天秤雙女獅子巨蟹宮神 (千子村 孫林 孫惠), 三天三代除邪天師眾 (千子村 王國安 孫金), 五山五嶽天齊大帝 (千子孫 李廷運), 奎婁胃夘畢觜參眾 (empty cartouche), 井鬼柳星張翼軫眾 (empty cartouche), 諸天太陰聖眾 (empty cartouche), 亱摩天主聖眾 (empty cartouche), 太乙東華老人星君 (empty cartouche), 先?天后土聖母眾 (empty cartouche); third row, right to left: [...] (北門子 李善元 王秀 張辰樞), 金木水火土五德星君 (北門子 樊崇礼 樊崇義 樊崇仁 樊選), 江河四凟聖眾 (石家庄 史門李氏 李氏 李氏 史門楊氏 楊氏 楊氏), 大將太煞日遊太陰眾 (石家庄 史門王氏 王氏 王氏 王門王氏 李門康氏), 宅龍蚕官伏兵博士五鬼 (石家庄 史門田氏 邵門郭氏 王門蘇氏 蘇門劉氏), 陰奏歸忌九坎力士眾 (本村 ...), 地藏王菩薩聖眾 (本村 盧門奚氏 賈門王氏 賈門曹氏 樊門張氏), 北陰酆都大帝眾 (本村王門楊氏 賈門李氏 范門甄氏 范門李氏), 秦廣五王聖眾 (本村 吳門阮氏 樊門范氏 王門甄氏 樊門郭氏), 閻羅五王聖眾 (本村 李門樊氏 李門吳氏 張門張氏 賈門李氏), 天地三曹等眾 (本村 賈門張氏 司門宋氏 劉門郭氏 司門邵氏), 冥府六案等眾 (本村 賈門康氏 賈門李氏 李門張氏 楊門李氏); bottom row, right to left: [...] (...), 冥府管死司官 (...), 冥府祿司判官 (...), 冥府十八獄主眾 (...), 冥府獄主眾 (...), 冥府八寒等眾 (...), 冥八熱等眾 (...), 諸司判官等眾 (...), 獄司惡業等眾 (...), 獄司殘苦等眾 (...), 面然鬼王☐☐ (...), 五瘟使者等眾 (...). South wall, west panel, top row, right to left: 巧嘴巨舌臭口大腹眾 (本村 賀門張氏 路門賀氏 樊門賀氏 楊門樊氏), 疾病餓鬼等眾 (本村 盧門張氏 賀門逯氏 吳門周氏 賀門鄢氏), 橫死鬼杜等眾 (本村 盧門宋氏 張門張氏 蔺門柳氏 吳門杜氏), 自作橫死等眾 (本村 ☐☐魏氏 楊門安氏); second row, right to left: 冤孽刀傷殺害等眾 (本村 賈門侯氏 王門刘氏 賈門任氏 盧門賈氏), 冤枉苦死等眾 (本村 賈門李氏 賈門王氏 賈門喬氏 王門高氏), 自刺身亡等眾 (本村 李門李氏 賈門李氏 賈門高氏 賈門王氏), 車輦身亡等眾 (本村 王門張氏 楊門魏氏 王門李氏 楊門刘氏) (本村 梁門盧氏 樊門張氏 樊門魏 賈門杜氏); bottom row, right to left: 徃古藥傷等眾 (本村 ☐門宋氏 ☐門董氏), [...] (本村 賈門馬氏 賈門☐☐), 徃古賢天烈女眾 (本村 楊門賈氏 楊門苗氏 楊門郭氏 韓門楊氏), 徃古孝子順孫 (本村 賈門馬氏 劉門張氏) (本村 楊門徐氏 張門楊氏 楊門賈氏 賈門樊氏). Another interesting, if less spectacular, aspect of the building are three small painted panels over the exterior of the southern door, of which two survive to any degree. The central panel shows the Four Great Guardian Kings (Si da tianwang 四大天王) protecting the monastery gateway, rendered in Western-influenced perspectival manner. These should date from the 19th century.

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