EXTRA: Yongzuo Temple, Taiyuan, Shanxi

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on May 25, 2015.)

The Twin Pagodas (双塔) are at now-secularized Yongzuo
Temple (永祚寺), Taiyuan, Shanxi (山西, 太原市).

August 31, 2012 - Although not on my list, the Yongzuo ("Eternal Blessing") Temple was a "must see" for two reasons.

These are, in fact, the two pagodas which have gained the temple its alternate name, Shuangta or "Twin Pagoda" Temple. The temple and the older of the two towers were built in 1599; the second tower was completed about a decade later. Construction was sponsored by a wealthy local scholar to promote the development of local culture and train scholars for the Imperial Examination System.

It has an unusual layout. While most Buddhist temples face south, this one faces north, perhaps to face a nearby river. A performance stage larger than the one at Chongshan Temple lies across from the gate. And while the northeast is normally considered the "dangerous direction" and calls for greater protection, these pagodas lie in the southeast.

Walking straight in from the gate, one reaches a pleasant courtyard filled with greenery, where peonies descended from some planted here in the Ming will be in full bloom. A guest hall lies to one side, and a mediation hall to the other. Straight ahead is the Main Hall, with its beautiful groupings of statues.

Peony gardens lie on all sides, and there's a fine collection of over 200 steles. These have been gathered here from closed sites around the province.

At last one reaches the pagodas, lying off the main axis. Each one exceeds 54 meters in height. They are named Xuanwen ("declaring culture") and Wenfeng ("culture peak"), and are constructed of brick carved to appear like wood.

The temple is no longer an active place of Buddhist activities, and is administered by the local government.

GPS Info:
  • 37.84696, 112.59639


(Regarding problems with this map, please see the CHINA section on this page.)


More pictures can be found here.

The "Twin Pagodas" and front gate at Yongzuo Temple

The Ming-period Main Hall

The "Twin Pagodas" closer up

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