Jiezhou Temple of Emperor Guan (Yuncheng, Shanxi)

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Situated in Yuncheng, Shanxi, the Jiezhou Temple of Emperor Guan ( 解州關帝廟Xiezhou Gaundi Miao ) is also called the Palace of Lofty Peace ( 崇寧宮Chongning Gong ). First built in the 9th year (589) of the Kaihuang Era of the Sui, it was rebuilt in the 7th year (1014) of the Dazhongxiangfu Era of the Song. Destroyed in an earthquake in the 34th year (1555) of the Jiajing Era of the Ming, it was rebuilt under the leadership of Zhao Zuyuan. Ruined in a fire in the 41st year (1702) of the Kangxi Era of the Qing, it was again rebuilt later.

The large temple has two parts. The southern part, the Park of Sworn Brothers, includes the Arch, the Pavilion of Men of Honor, the Pavilion of Three Friends, and the Rockwork and Peach Garden. The northern part is the main temple of two courtyards. With a central axis formed by constructions such as the Duan Gate, the Zhi Gate, the Wu Gate, the Mountain and Sea Arch, the Tower of Royal Calligraphy, the Hall of Lofty Peace, the front courtyard has on both sides the Bell and Drum Towers, the Literary Management Gate, the Martial Government Gate, the Wood Arch, the Stone Arch, the Bell Pavilion and the Pavilion of Tablets. The back yard, with its central axis formed by the Arch of Everlasting Awe ( 「氣肅千秋」坊Qi Su Qianqiu Fang ) and the Tower of Spring and Autumn ( 春秋樓Chunqiu Lou ), has on its sides the Tower of Broadswords and the Tower of Seals. The front and back yards are surrounded by corridors. To the east is the eastern side courtyard and to the west the western side courtyard. In the eastern courtyard lie the Shrine of Lofty Saints, the Hall of the Three Pristine Ones, the Shrine of Gentleman Zhu and the eastern park. In the western courtyard lie the Palace of Longevity, the Palace of Everlasting Life, the Palace of Remaining Bliss and the eastern park.

The main hall of the Temple of Emperor Guan is the Hall of Lofty Peace, which is named after Guan Yu’s title of “Perfect Sovereign of Lofty Peace” ( 崇寧真君Chongning Zhenjun ) given by the Hui Emperor in the 3rd year (1104) of the Chongning Era of the Northern Song. Rebuilt in the 57th year(1718)of the Kangxi Era of the Qing, the blue-glaze-tiled hall has 7 rooms in its width and 6 rooms in its depth. With a wide front platform, surrounding cloister, and 26 stone pillars with entwining dragons, the hall is very significant with a fine system of brackets and ridge ornaments. In the wood-carved shrine in the hall, a statue of Guan in imperial clothes sits elegantly with nice statues of attendants and generals on both sides.

The Spring and Autumn Tower, or the Tower of the Kylin Book ( 麟經閣Linjing Ge ) , is another characteristic building here. Built in the 9th year (1870)of the Tongzhi Era of the Qing, this imperial sleeping hall ( 寢殿Qindian ) has a sitting statue of Emperor Guan downstairs and a statue of Guan Reading the Spring and Autumn, both of which are masterpieces made in the Qing. Structured very artfully and uniquely with the cloister pillars of the upper storey standing on the pillars of the lower storey, the tower appears to be hanging in the void when viewed from outside. Owing to such a unique structure, the temple is one of the largest Daoist palace-styled temple complexes.