Temple of the Heavenly Matriarch (Zhijiang, Wunan)
The temple is located on the west bank of the Fushui river on the border of Zhijiang county, Hunan province. According to the Record of Zhijiang County by some immigrants from Fujian, it was originally built in the 13th Qianlong year of the Qing dynasty. In its early days, the temple covered an area of 6532 square metres, much larger than its current size of about 1970 square metres.
Stretching out from west to east, the whole temple consists of Stone Railings and a Memorial Gate in the front, the Playhouse, the Main Hall and Guanyin Hall in the middle, the Hall of the Spirit of Wealth on the east and the Halls of the Chamber of the Saintly Warrior ( 武聖樓 Wusheng Lou ) and of the Five Communion Spirit ( 五通神殿 Wutongshen Dian ) on the right.
The old Dressing Chamber has been dismantled. Currently, the most valuable building is the Memorial Gate, which is constructed with high quality stones from Guizhou, and well known for its remarkable structure and delicate design. 10.6 meters high, and 6.3 meters wide, the arch-like gate features its multi-eaved roof, remarkable stone lions and drums on both sides, as well as relief sculptures including 95 carved or hollowed masterpieces, featuring followers, grasses, forests, animals, birds, immortals and famous buildings nationwide, etc. In an artistically delicate style, the relief sculptures illustrate famous Chinese stories such as the Eight Immortals’ Crossing the Sea, the Blessings Delivered by Immortal Aunt Ma, the Star of Longevity’s Presenting Flat Peaches and renowned scenes such as Luo Yang Bridge, Wu Han’s Three Sectors, etc. In 1983, the Memorial Gate was designated as a provincial historical heritage site. In 1997, the Provincial Daoist Association was founded at the temple, and Daoist activities were resumed since then.