White Cloud TempleA ~ Z

Introducing the White Cloud Temple (Bai Yun Guan)

The White Cloud Temple, also called Baiyunguan, is a Daoist temple located in Xicheng District of Beijing. It is one of the Three Great Ancestral Courts of the Quanzhen sect of Taoism, and is entitled as the First Temple under Heaven. The White Cloud Temple was first founded in 739 during the Tang Dynasty, and was initially called Tianchang Abbey. During this period, the abbey was state-sponsored and staffed by an elite clergy. From 1125 to 1215 when what is now Beijing was controlled by the Jin Dynasty, the abbey served as the Daoist administrative headquarters and played an important role in state ceremonies. After Beijing was taken by the Mongols in 1215, the abbey was taken over by the Quanzhen patriarch Qiu Chuji, and became the headquarters of the Quanzhen movement until the establishment of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). In October 1222, Qiu gave his exposition of Taoism to Genghis Khan after a three-year trek from Shangdong after being summoned. Qiu’s successor Yin Zhiping built a memorial shrine over Qiu's grave. This shrine became a temple in its own right called White Cloud Temple. The abbey was damaged when the Mongols took over in the late 13th century, and during Ming times the Changchun Gong disappeared. During the Ming, monks from the Zhengyi sect took over operations of the abbey, but continued Quanzhen traditions and ordination ceremonies. The extant temple was rebuilt in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and exemplifies the Daoist architecture of that period. Today it is still a fully functioning temple and is the seat of the Chinese Taoist Association. Every year on the 19th day of the first lunar month, a festival is held at the White Cloud Temple to celebrate Qiu Chuji’s birthday. It was thought that Qiu would return to earth as an immortal on that day. Like most other Chinese temples, the White Cloud Temple is laid out on a south to north central axis, with the entrance at the south end. There are five main halls built along the central axis, beginning with the Main Gate, Lingguan Hall, Yuhuang Hall, Laolv Hall, Qiuzu Hall and finally the Sanqing Hall. On either side of the main axis are two smaller axes, each containing halls dedicated to a variety of deities. In the rear of the complex is a garden which hosts the abbey’s ordination platform.

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Lingguan Hall

It was initially built in 1443, the eighth year of Ming Emperor Ying Zong. The tutelary deities in Taoism are enshrined in this hall. The portraits of four great marshals in Chinese history are hanging on both sides of the wall. They are Zhao Gongming, Ma Sheng, Wen Qiong and Yue Fei. In the middle of the hall is Wang Lingguan who has a red face and three eyes and wears a gold armor. He is the chief tutelary deity in Taoism who could exorcise evils both in the heaven and earth, as well as helping people recover from illness.

Yuhuang Hall

Yuhuang Hall was first built in 1438, the third year of the reign of Ming Emperor Ying Zong. The Jade Emperor, master of all deities, is enshrined in this hall. In Daoism, the Jade Emperor presides over the heaven, the earth and the nether world, as well as the happiness and disasters of the secular world. The inscriptions on the plaque were written by the former vice Chairman Li Jishen in 1956.

Laolv Hall

Similar in design with the Yuhuang Hall, Laolv hall was initially built in 1228 of the Yuan Dynasty. Firstly called the Seven True Saints Hall, the seven Quanzhen immortals in Taoism are enshrined here. They are Qiu Chuji in the middle; Liu Chuxuan, Tan Chuduan and Mayu in the east; Wang Chuyi, Hao Datong and Sun Bu’er in the west. In the Qing Dynasty, ceremonies of ordination were held here and it was also the place where the senior Taoist taught Taoist disciplines. Now it is the place for Taoists to chant scriptures, hold prayers and perform Taoist Rites.

Qiuzu Hall

Originally built in 1228 to enshrine Qiu Chuji, it used to be called Chu Shun Tang. The sculptures on both sides show the story of meeting Yuan Emperor Genghis Khan after being invited. Qiu Chuji, also named Qiu Changchun, is the founder of the Longmen sect of the Quanzhen Taoist tradition. That is why he is also called Qiu Zu, Zu means ancestor in Chinese. The huge alms bowl was conferred by Qing Emperor Qianlong, which is also called Ying Bowl. It is said that Qiu’s remains were hidden under the huge bowl.

Sanqing Hall

First built in 1428, the third year of Ming Emperor Xuan Zong, the Sanqing hall is a two-story, five bay structure with a gabled roof that contains statues of the Three Pure ones on the top floor and the Four Celestial Aides on the bottom floor. The three pure ones are the highest deities in Taoism, namely Yuqing Yuanshi Tianzun in the middle, Shangqing Lingbao Tianzun on the left and Taiqing Taode Tianzun on the right.

Opening Hours

08:30 - 16:30

08:30 - 16:00

Price

Entrance Fee: ¥ 10

Address

No.9, Baiyunguan Street, Xicheng District, Beijing

北京市西城区白云观街9号

Distance

Downtown

Getting There

Subway:

Line 1 Muxidi Station Exit C, walk east for 450 meter then turn south; it is on your left after 880 meters

Taxi:

请带我到白云观

(Please take me to Baiyunguan, the White Cloud Temple)

Travel Tips

No pictures inside any of the Halls; it is not allowed to bring your own incense sticks

Last Updated

2018-05-04 20:42:49

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