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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Nine Dragon Mountain Temple in Anyang, Henan

Fairly busy now. A quick short account on my recent visit to the Nine Dragon Mountain Temple ¾ÅÁúɽ in Anyang, Henan Province, northern China.

Anyang, the location of the recently declared World Heritage site of Yinxiu, is a relatively unknown city today. However, Anyang, where my company has a factory (which I visit almost every month), is one of the world's oldest cities. It is important for several reasons:

1) It was the ancient city of Yindu, last capital of the Shang Dynasty.
2) In Yindu, the first Chinese writing was invented, and evidence of that was found on thousands of tortoise shells at the site of the ruins of Yindu, i.e., Yinxiu ("ruins of Yin")
3) It was near Anyang, at Youlicheng, that Zhou Wenwang (ÖÜÎÄÍõ) was imprisoned, during which he invented BaGua and wrote Yi Ching. His son was killed by the evil last King of Shang, King Zhou (æûÍõ), who fed Zhou Wenwang with congee cooked with the flesh of Zhou Wenwang's son. Later, with the aid of nobles and the gods, Zhou Wenwang overthrew evil King Zhou and his evil queen, and began the Zhou Dynasty. The epic story is covered in Chronicles of the Making of Gods (·âÉñ°ñ).
4) The Song Dynasty patriot, YueFei, was born in Anyang.
5) First President of the Chinese Republic, Yuan Shikai, was born and buried in Anyang.
6) Zhao Zhiyang, the Chinese premier during Tiananmen, who was deposed by Deng Xiaoping after the massacre, was also a native of Anyang.

Anyway, I was driven semi-drunk to the Nine Dragon Mountain Temple after a banquet with the local mayor and government officials. Didn't take many photos (drunk lah - and only used mobile phone) but I will try to make up with some stories heard there. According to legend, a village girl fell in love with a lad her family disapproved, and was chased out of her home after getting pregnant. She fled in a pathetic state and after drinking from a river near the mountain gave birth to nine dragons. Hence the name.

This temple was built during the era of Western Jin dynasty around 300 A.D. - that's 1700 years ago, but was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. The temple was since rebuilt in the 1980's by local peasants. It is located on top of the Nine Dragon Mountain overlooking the surrounding plains and lake (and my company's factory). A book I read said Chao Chao (²Ü²Ù) of the Three Kingdom Period used to train his troops on an island in this lake. Panoramic view.

A very rough track leads from the main road up the mountain. Need a hardy car or 4WD. Most peasants walk up the mountain, taking about an hour. Not very steep though. There are always people setting off fire crackers outside the temple in honour of the gods. A few dirty looking fire cracker and religious object shops outside the temple.

Inside, apart from the usual Jade Emperor, I came across many female deities/gods I have never heard before, among them TaiShan Grandma (̩ɽÄÌÄÌ), Twelve Old Ma (Ê®¶þÀÏĸ) and simply Old Grandma (ÀÏÄÌÄÌ). I also came across a few other gods with names that include words like Grandma (ÄÌÄÌ), Aunt (¹Ã¹Ã), Snow Mountain Aunt (ѩɽ¹Ã¹Ã), etc - though I don't have photos to verify them - can't remember them now - too blur at that time - pity. There was also a hall devoted to maybe four dragon kings (and their statues). Does anyone know of these deities? Amazing how different the gods are in that region, compared to those found in Singapore.

On a separate day, my car passed by a temple devoted to XuanTian DaDi within Anyang City. Didn't stop. Hope I would be able to visit the temple one day.

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