Temple of Elder Tao (Changsha, Wunan)

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Located in Mt. Linxiang, an eastern suburb of Changsha, Hunan province, the temple saw its first construction in the Tianjian years of the Liang dynasty, and was repaired in the following dynasties. An important reconstruction was done under emperor Kangxi’s rule, and a major expansion finished during emperor Guangxu’s ruling years. Since then, buildings such as the main hall, the subsidiary hall and the playhouse took their shape. From 1931 to 1933, repair work was done over the playhouse, which, since then, became an important destination for visitors and spotlight of the temple. In the first month and the eighth month every year, theatrical performances and religious ceremonies, the locally important events in the spring and fall, were held in the playhouse.

In the Cultural Revolution, the temple suffered severe damage. In 1986, it was designated as a cultural heritage site by the provincial government, which allocated money to rebuild the gateway to the mountain and the playhouse in the following years. Since then, the temple and all facilities were returned to Daoists.

Covering an area of 2.5 mu or so, the temple includes buildings such as the gateway, the playhouse, the main hall and subsidiary halls, totaling 1317 square kilometers. A couplet was written on the stone pillars of the playhouse, reminding people of the remarkable history of the temple and important figures leaving their footprints in the mountain. Daoist philosophical implication was intangibly revealed between the lines. The major deities in the temple are Tao Dan and his nephew Tao Hen. As the grandson of Tao Kan, a remarkable politician and strategist in the Jin dynasty, Tao Dan committed himself to recovering the central part of China, which had been conquered by northern nomadic tribes. Unfortunately, his life ended in failure, and his two sons also died in the warfare. Having experienced all these setbacks, Tao Dan and his nephew Hen secluded themselves in the mountains. In the following years, they lived in a humble cottage by the Xian river. In the third Tianjian year of the Liang dynasty, cultivation of Dao brought forth their deliverance from the corpse. Local people built temples to commemorate their remarkable merits. Since then, on the 13th day of the first month and the 17th day of the 8th month in every year, the alleged birthdays of the Perfect Men, a Temple Fair has been held in this area.