Three Origins Temple (Sanyuangong) , Guangzhou

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The Triple Origin Temple ( 三元宮 Sanyuan Gong ) is located at the piedmont of Yuexiu Mountain in Guangzhou City. It is a celebrated sacred space in the Baiyue region and has a long history of over 1,600 years. It is recorded that in the second Daxing year during the reign of Emperor Yuandi of the Eastern Jin dynasty, Prefect Bao Jing of the Southern Sea built a place for his daughter Bao Gu to cultivate Dao and practice medicine. As it was located at the foot of Yuexiu Mountain, it was named "Yuegang Court"; as it was north of the city, it was also called "the northern temple" by people of later generations. In the 16th Chongzhen year of the Ming dynasty (1643), the imperial official in charge of astronomy came to Guangzhou and said to local squires, "Heaven protects all the Santai constellations, whose light brightens the Sui City in turn. The Yuexiu Moutain is full of vital breath. You should change the Yuegang Court into the Triple Origin Temple and worship the Great Emperors of the Triple Origin ( 三元大帝 Sanyuan Dadi ) so as to correspond to the heavenly auspicious vital breath." All agreeing on this, the local squires raised funds to rebuild the Yuegang Court into the Triple Origin Temple, making the statues of the deities of the three origins (the upper one, the middle one and the lower one) in the main hall and moved the statue of Bao Go to a side hall. In the 39th Kangxi year of the Qing dynasty (1700), Pingnan King Shang Kexi and Imperial Inspector Li Qifeng came to govern the Yue prefecture. Suffering from drought and required by squires, they asked abbot Du Yangdi of the Temple of Emptiness ( 沖虛觀 Chongxu Guan ) of Mt. Luofu to pray for rain in Sui. Then timely rain fell heavily. The happy officials and people thus asked Du Yangdi to be the abbot of the Triple Origin Temple. Proposed by Shang Kexi, they raised money to enlarge the temple, building in succession the Hall of Numinous Officials ( 靈官殿 Lingguan Dian ) at the mountain gate, the main hall the Triple Origin Hall, the Bell and Drum Tower, the Hall of Patriarch Lü, the Hall of Bao Gu, the Hall of The Venerable Sovereign ( 老君 Laojun ), the Hall of The Jade Emperor ( 玉皇 Yuhuang ), the Hall of The Big Dipper ( 斗姥 Doumu ) along with quite a few houses.

Du Yangdi was originally a Jinshi (a successful candidate in the highest imperial examinations) at the end of the Ming dynasty and was once the chief examiner. After the fall of the Ming dynasty, unwilling to be an official of the Qing dynasty, he led a secluded life on Mt. Luofu and became the abbot of the Temple of Emptiness. Later, he held concurrent posts as abbot of the Triple Origin Temple of Guangzhou and the Yuanmiao Temple of Huizhou. After his death, the three temples contended fiercely for his corpse. At last, the government judged that it should be buried on Mt. Luofu because he originally lived in this famous mountain; that his clothes and hat belonged to the Triple Origin Temple and that a burial mound should be built for them; that his statue belonged to the Yuanmiao Temple and that it should be hung in the Ancestral Shrine for commemoration.

During the Tongzhi years, the warrior Huang Zongsheng, following Liu Yongfu of the Black Banner Army, fought the French army in Annan and established marvelous military exploits time and again. After his demobilization, he became the abbot of the Triple Origin Temple. The governor of Guangdong and Guangxi Ruilin presented a tablet inscribed with the words "guarding the country and protecting the people", which is hung at the hall.

In the 29th Guangxu year (1903), abbot Liang Zongqi of the Triple Origin Temple appropriated the temple's entire 623-mu field for the founding of "Shimin School" to foster talents for the country. The court bestowed a horizontal tablet inscribed with the words "hiding capacities and encouraging study", which was hung on the mountain gate.

During the anti-Japanese war, the Triple Origin Temple was heavily damaged. After liberation, abbot He Chengrui begged alms and reconstructed it. During the "Cultural Revolution", the Daoists were forced to leave the temple, and none of the deities' statues and historical relics remained. Since 1982, the Guangzhou Daoist Association has started to renovate it comprehensively, and now the temple has taken on an entirely new look. The whole temple is built against the mountain. The halls and pavilions are arranged on different levels, and the courts are concealed in forests. This serene and elegant place can be regarded as a scenic spot in the south of the Five Ridges.


Address: Yingyuan Road, Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province

Traveling route: go by city bus in Guangzhou City

Tele: 86-20-83551548