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Beizhen Miao(北鎮廟 ) Wang, Xiaoyang; Huang, Chenxi; Wu, Sijia; Carlton, Kelly; Zhang, Yuanjing


Beizhen Temple (北鎮廟) honors the spirit of Yiwulü Mountain (醫巫閭山). Yiwulü Mountain, near Beizhen, is one of the Five Garrisons in the Yuezhen Haidu (岳鎮海瀆), the traditional Chinese state system of sacrifices to mountains and rivers. Beizhen Temple was first established in the 14th year (594) of the Kaihuang (開皇) reign era (581–601) of Sui Wendi (隋文帝, r. 581–604). It has been frequently repaired throughout history; the temple that survives today largely consists of structures preserved from the Ming and Qing. Of the Five Garrisons temples, it is the only temple to be completely preserved. Beizhen Temple is located in the eastern foothills of Yiwulü Mountain (醫巫閭山), sitting in the north and facing toward the south. There are seven halls along its central axis in the following order: the main gate (lit. mountain gate; shanmen 山門), Hall of Divine Horses (Shenma dian 神馬殿), Imperial Incense Hall (Yuxiang dian 御香殿), Great Hall (Dadian 大殿), Hall of Changing Clothes (Gengyi dian 更衣殿), Inner Incense Hall (Neixiang dian 內香殿), and a resting palace (qingong 寢宮). In front of the main gate, there is a reconstructed sloping path leading to a restored Qing dynasty stone archway. There are two stone lions in front of and two behind the stone archway. Each of the lions’ expressions is different, exhibiting happy, angry, grieving, and joyous miens, respectively. The main entrance consists of a red wall topped with green, glazed tiles. A stone plaque is mounted above the main gate, upon which three large characters, "bei zhen miao 北鎮廟" (Beizhen Temple), are written horizontally in regular script. Within the main gate are the ruins of two reception rooms for officials (chaofang 朝房), one to the left and one to the right of the courtyard; only the foundations survive. Several kinds of ancient trees were planted in the courtyard. The Hall of Divine Horses is located approximately 25 meters from the main gate. Within the hall, there were originally statues of the Horse-spirit and Horse-youth (Matong 馬童), which were damaged and have now been restored. In the eastern corner of the hall, there survives the “Stele Record of the Reconstructed Beizhen Temple,” dated to the 18th year (1892) of the reign of Emperor Guangxu (光緒, r. 1875–1908). A stele without any characters stands in the western corner of the hall. Outside the Hall of Divine Horses, on its eastern side, is a bell tower; there is a drum tower on its western side. These towers, which were first built during the reign of Emperor Hongzhi (弘治, r. 1488–1505) of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), are now being restored. Behind the Hall of Divine Horses, there are four newly built stele pavilions, preserving four steles constructed under the imperial orders of Kangxi (康熙, r. 1662–1722), Yongzheng (雍正, r. 1723–1735), and Qianlong (乾隆, r. 1736–1795), respectively. Behind the stele pavilion, there are four stone steles on the eastern side and four on the western side of the courtyard, many of which were constructed by imperial order and the poetry and prose for which were written by scholars. The Imperial Incense Hall sits on a high platform behind the stone steles. In front of the Imperial Incense Hall, there are three stone steles on the eastern side and three on the western side of the courtyard. The Imperial Incense Hall is also called the Front Hall. It was the place where incense used in state sacrifices was stored. Approximately 24 meters to the north of the Imperial Incense Hall is the Great Hall, which is the place where ceremonies for sacrifices to the mountain where conducted. It was first constructed during the 19th year (1421) of the reign of Emperor Yongle (永樂, r. 1403–1424) of the Ming dynasty. The deity of Mt. Yiwulü was worshipped in the hall. On the eastern, northern, and western inner walls, there are colored paintings of the Ming dynasty’s thirty-two founders of state. Behind the Great Hall is the Hall of Changing Clothes, which is the place where the emperor or central government officials making sacrifices to the mountain deity changed their clothing. Behind the Hall of Changing Clothes is the Inner Incense Hall, which is the place where officials’ sacrificial offerings and incense were stored. Beizhen Temple’s northernmost structure is the resting palace, which was where images of the mountain deity and mountain goddess were worshipped and where the mountain deity rested. The deity images were formerly destroyed; now, there are newly standing images. Within the hall, there were originally murals on the eastern, northern, and western walls, which have since been severely damaged. Below the Imperial Incense Hall and the Great Hall high platform, there are stele pavilions on both the eastern and western sides, which preserve over ten historical stone steles. Beizhen Temple’s present structures are primarily concentrated along its central axis. On the whole, structures on its eastern and western flanks have been completely destroyed and have been reconstructed and restored in modern times. Among them, behind the main gate on the eastern flank, there is the Ten Thousand Years Temple (Wanshousi 萬壽寺), of which only the foundation survives. The ruins formerly had several Ming and Qing stone steles. Guanyin Hall (Guanyin tang 觀音堂), located to the east of Wanshou Temple, has already been restored. Behind the main gate, on its western flank, there is the Protect the Dharma Hall (Hufa dian 護法殿) and the Hu (Fox) Immortal Hall (Huxian dian 胡/狐仙堂). In addition, to the west of the resting palace are the ruins of the Transfer of Fortune Platform (Zhuanyun tai 轉運臺), of which only the foundation survives.

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