Jade Spring Temple (Tianshui, Gansu)

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The Jade Spring Temple stands at the foot of Mt. Tianjing in the north of Tianshui city, Gansu. For previous centuries, it remained a holy site of Daoism, famous for its dense forests and high temples. In the mountain ran a spring called Jade Spring, whose water was considered highly efficacious in curing diseases. The temple was thus named after it.


According to historical records, in the fall of the 8th Zhiyuan year of the Yuan dynasty, Liang Zhitong, a disciple of Patriarch Qiu Chuji, came to this place on his tour to Shaanxi. Attracted by the scenery, he constructed a shelter here, spending years as a hermit. In the 13th Zhiyuan year, the Venerable Sovereign Hall ( 老君殿 Laojun Dian ) was constructed to commemorate The Five Patriarchs and Seven Perfect Ones ( 五祖七真 Wuzu Qizhen ) of The Complete Perfection Tradition ( 全真教 Quanzhen Jiao ). It became the first hall of the Jade Spring Temple.


The temple saw several renovations and expansions in the Ming and Qing dynasties. Since then, it became a very big temple, consisting of more than 90 houses.


Since the collapse of the Qing dynasty, the temple was severely damaged. The latest renovation started in 1981.


The Ming and Qing dynasties saw the construction of most of the houses we see today, which consist of the Hall of the Five Patriarchs and of the Seven Perfect Ones, the Bridge Leading to Immortality, the Jade Emperor Pavilion, the Honorific Arch of the First Mountain, the Hall of the Three Pristine Ones, Sovereign Wenchang's Palace, the Hall of the Perfect Warrior, the Hall of the Big Dipper, The Thunder Patriarch Temple, the Hall of the Three Officials, Zhuge Shrine, Togong Shrine, Cangjie Palace, and the Jade Spring. Among them, the Jade Emperor Pavilion ( 玉皇閣 Yuhuang Ge ), which stands at the top of 53 steps, is the biggest building.


There is a spring beside Cangjie Palace. According to historical stories, Perfect Man Liang Zhitong used to use the water in the spring to cure his eyes when he was living in the shelter he built for himself in this place. Since then, it has also been known as the Spring for Clear-sightedness. In the south of the spring, there is the Immortals' Grotto, the alleged place where Perfect Man Lu of the Han dynasty, Perfect Man Liang of the Yuan dynasty and Perfect Man Ma of the Qing dynasty flew to immortality. The tale was partially proven by Perfect Man Liang's handwriting, that can still be seen on the wall of the cave. Today, just from the cliff, pine trees stretch out into the air. On the top of the cliff stand the oldest pine trees, boasting their roots, which are seen interweaving on the ground, just like well-worn hair queues. They have become a very famous view in the temple.


Southwest of the grotto stood a pavilion. Inside, four steles boasted the handwritings of Zhao Menfu, the famous calligraphist in the Yuan dynasty. All the inscriptions were poems by famous poets such as Li Bai, Weir Yingwu and Wang Anshi. Further in the southwest stood another pavilion named the 'Pavilion for Collecting Views'. Overlooking its top, you feel that the good views of the whole area are all close at hand. On the opposite side of the grotto is the Southern Hill where lay the Shrine for Togong, a building constructed in the Qing dynasty and the Building of Heavenly Tranquility. All buildings were granted special designs and unique styles.


The temple fair was held on the 9th day of the 1st lunar month each year, a day of celebrations, performances and businesses, which attracted many people in local areas.