No. 118: Zhusheng Temple, Nanyue, Hunan

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on December 22, 2014.)

Rather than as statuary, the 500 arhats (五百罗汉) at Zhusheng Temple (祝圣寺), Nanyue,
Hunan (湖南, 南岳), are displayed on 250 plaques, two to a plaque. Not unique, but unusual.

August 15, 2012 - The next temple I visited was the 15th and last key temple on this nearly-two week trip.

As I've mentioned, the town of Nanyue sits at the base of one of China's "Five Great Mountains." The undisputed centerpiece of the town is the Nanyue Damiao, the "Great Southern Temple" of Daoism, which covers nearly 100,000 square meters.

Walking east from that temple's south gate, down a small street lined with statue carvers' shops, one reaches the more humble Zhusheng Buddhist Temple, considered by some to be a part of the Great Daoist Temple's properties, though separated from it by a small stream.

It has been destroyed and rebuilt many times since its foundation in the Tang. In its current incarnation, it was named "Expressing Good Wishes to the Sage." It seems that Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty was meant to make a visit during one of his Southern Inspection Tours, but was unable to stop there. In his honor, though, the place was later renamed, he being the "Sage" meant to receive the "good wishes." (Kangxi's "Temple Name"--one of his posthumous names--was "Shengzu" or "Holy Patriarch," this "Sheng" being the same character as the one in "Zhusheng.")

The temple has a number of fine features, including its magnificent gateway with beautifully-painted bas relief panels. Another interesting element is the 500 Arhat Hall. Where this is usually filled with statuary, the one at Zhusheng Temple has 250 black plaques, each with white etched figures of two arhats.

Tired but happy, I taxied to the train station; two high-speed rides later, I was home.

GPS Info:
  • 27.24281, 112.7377


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


More pictures can be found here.

The magnificent front gate of Zhusheng Temple

The Main Hall at Zhusheng 

Plaques instead of statues in the 500 Arhat Hall

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