Temple of the Imperial Lord on Mt. Wunao (Macheng, Hubei)

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Mt. Wunao lies in Macheng City, Hubei Province, and the Temple of the Imperial Lord on Mt. Wunao ( 五腦山帝主廟 Wunao Shan Dizhu Miao ) has always been a place for Daoist activities. The temple was initially built in the Northern Song dynasty and repaired heavily in the Jiajing era of the Ming dynasty. It underwent great changes, being demolished and reestablished time and again. The existent buildings were reconstructed in the Bingchen year of the Jiaqing era of the Qing dynasty (1796). The main buildings include one pavilion (the Pavilion for Purifying the Mind), two gates (the first and the second temple entrances), three temples (the Purple Subtlety Constellation ( 紫微 Ziwei ) Temple, the Jade Clarity Temple ( 玉清 Yuqing ), and the Temple of the Mighty and Numinous), and four halls (the Worship Hall, the Hall of the Imperial Lord, the Hall of Patriarchs ( 祖師殿 Zushi dian ) and the Auntie’s Hall). There are also a dining-hall, a wayside pavilion, Daoists’ lodgings, etc. The whole building covers an area of 20 mu. Enveloped in mist, it enjoys a quiet and beautiful surrounding.

The Imperial Lord worshipped in the temple is the Marquis of Purple Subtlety ( 紫微侯 Ziwei hou ) Zhang Qi. According to legend, Zhang Qi transmigrated from Zhang Fei, General in Charge of Cavalry of the Western Shu in the period of the Three Kingdoms. According to mountain records, Zhang Qi was born in the Zhang family in Bishan County in western Sichuan in the period of Emperor Shenzong of the Song dynasty. The seventh child of the family, he was addressed as Xianggong (a term of address for young men of rich or cultured families in feudal China) Zhang Qi. At the age of 17, Zhang Qi traveled to Macheng, where he found many illicit temples and destroyed them all. The temple owners appealed to the government authorities. Zhang was then given a three-year prison sentence. When a fire occurred in the town, knowing that his adversity was coming to an end, Zhang Qi asked someone to tell the governor that he was able to avert it. Being set free, he rode on a black horse, with a red stick in hand. Fire died out once he pointed at it. Then Zhang Qi rode westward to the Xianggong Bridge and there flew to immortality together with his horse. Witnesses saw him stop on Mt. Wunao, so they built a temple at the foot of the mountain to worship him. In the Song dynasty, he was honored as Marquis of Purple Subtlety, and in the Ming dynasty, as King Who Serves the Empire and Follows the Will of Heaven ( 助國順天王 Zhuguo Shuntian Wang ).

Ever since the Qing dynasty, the Temple of the Imperial Lord has been a place of Eremitic Practice ( 隱修 Yinxiu ) for Daoists of The Complete Perfection Tradition ( 全真 Quanzhen ). In the “Great Cultural Revolution”, the statues of deities were all torn down and the Daoists were dismissed. In 1985, the temple was open again as a place for Daoist activities and was repaired.