Wenchang Temple in Zitong (Zitong County, Sichuan)

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Situated on Qiqu Mountain 10 kilometers north of the Zitong county seat, Sichuan, Wenchang Temple in Zitong was originally the Shrine for Yazi founded by local people in memory of Zhang Yazi ( 亞子祠Yazi Ci ), a local of Qiqu Mountain who died for his country in a war in the Jin Dynasty. Stories about Zhang manifesting himself spread among local people and they established a temple for him and worshipped him as the Zitong God ( 梓潼神Zitong Shen ). In the 3rd year (1316) of the Yanyou Era of the Yuan,the Renzong Emperor bestowed on the Zitong God the title “Imperial Sovereign Wenchang, Promoter of Benevolence and Controller of Wealth Who Serves the Origin and Initiates Salvation” ( 輔元開化文昌司祿宏仁帝君Fuyuan Kaihua Wenchang Silu Hongren Dijun ) and praised him as a loyal, pious, beneficent and righteous deity.

From then on the Zitong God was united with Wenchang God and people consequently built the Wenchang Temple in the Qiqu Mountain. Expanded many times through the Yuan, Ming and Qing, the temple became a grand and complete ancient complex. Occupying 12,000 m2, the grand temple is composed of 23 groups of buildings from different times. The main buildings include the Hall of Wenchang, the Temple of Emperor Guan, the Tower of Wind Tunnel, the Hall of the White Bull, the Hall of the Patriarch in Charge of Plagues, the Pavilion of Timely Rain, the Hall of Familial Bliss and the Hall of the Heavenly Lord. Built in accordance to the shape of the mountain, the constructions form a very charming arrangement and show great momentum in their gold-plating tiles, multiple ridges and extruding wings. The Hundred-Feet Tower on the frontispiece is a construction of the Ming Dynasty famous in the Ba and Shu area and comparable to Yueyang Tower and Yellow Crane Tower, famous in Xiang and Chu Area.

Completely exhibiting the constructive styles of different times from the Yuan till the Republican period, Wenchang Temple in Zitong is a very precious physical material for the study of Chinese architectural history. A national key protection unit of cultural relics, Qiqu Mountain, shining with the ancient constructions, ancient cypresses along an ancient road and zigzagged Tong River, is now both a sacred place for sacrificial rites and a beautiful scenic area.

Every 1st to 15th of the 2nd lunar month and 8th lunar month, people hold Zitong Temple Fairs according to local tradition.