Taoist temples in China are often called Gong, Guan, or Miao in Chinese, which refers to the holy hall where Taoist followers perform their religious ceremonies. A Taoist temple can be found right in the middle of Chongqing city, perched on a hill near Fotuguan Park, known as Guanyue Miao.
This Temple, in particular, blends Taoist beliefs and construction designs with Traditional Chinese construction methods and so has a unique style and appearance. The temple has been built, and destroyed, and rebuilt a few times throughout history, leaving it as we see it today, moved from its original location to here in 2009.
BACKGROUND & HISTORY
We do not know exactly when the original Guanyue Temple was built. What we do know is that the temple was destroyed during a war in the late Ming Dynasty. The temple was then rebuilt during the reign of Emperor Kangxi during the Qing Dynasty in 1664. In 1914, a statue of Yue Fei was added to the temple to be worshipped by order of then-president Yuan Shikai. From this day forward, the temple would be known as Guanyue Temple. Guan, from Guan Yu, a famous general during the Three Kingdoms Period in China, and Yue for Yue Fei, a Chinese Military General who lived during the Southern Song Dynasty. Guanyue Temple then became one of the most famous Taoist temples in Chongqing.
Guanyue Temple was destroyed again during the cultural revolution, and its original site was severely damaged, leaving only 631 square meters of the main hall. The temple was then uprooted, relocated, and reconstructed at its current location in 2009. A bronze statue of Guan Sheng was moved to the Chongqing Three Gorges Museum for exhibition there. Restored to its former glory, the temple’s three halls have been rebuilt, the Lingguan Hall, Guandi Hall, and the Sanqing Hall.
The Yin-Yang Symbol and Taoist Cosmology
One of the main attractions of the Guanyue Temple, and one that attracts, especially overseas visitors, is the Yin-Yang symbol found in the central courtyard of the temple. The Yin-Yang symbol is widely regarded as a symbol of ancient Chinese Tradition, depicting the two opposites. The circle represents Tao, the undifferentiated unity out of which all existence arises. The black and white halves within represent Yin-qi and Yang-qi, the primordial masculine and feminine energies. We often talk about them as simply opposites; black and white, night and day, male and female, good and bad. However, in the Taoist belief, the interplay between these two energies gives birth to our world.
The Guanyue Temple also houses three worship halls, each devoted to its own deity. The halls are beautifully decorated, and the temple overall is very photogenic.