Dongyue Temple

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The temple, which lies on the north of Chaoyangmen Outer Street, Chaoyang District, is also known as Beijing Folk Custom Museum. It is a spot of interest on folk customs. It enshrines Emperor Dongyue, the deity of Taishan Mountain. Its first construction in Yanyou reign in the Yuan Dynasty was funded by Zhang Liusun, head of a Taoist school named Zhengyi, and Wu Quanjie, one of his disciples. After frequent expansions in the Ming and Qing dynasties, it came to acquire a three-courtyard layout, with a main courtyard flanked by an east one and a west one. The whole complex covers an area of 0.04 square kilometers, with over 300 ancient buildings that reflect the architectural styles in three dynasties–Yuan, Ming, and Qing. It is the largest temple of Zhengyi school in north China.

The main buildings of the temple are concentrated in the main courtyard. Orderly arranged and magnificent, it was built as an imperial palace. The courtyard has a central axis, on which sit a glazed tile archway, the gate of the temple (already demolished), a gateway, Zhandai Gate, Daizong Hall, and Yude Hall. These are symmetrically flanked by Sanmaojun Hall, Binglinggong Hall, Fucaishen Hall, Guangsishen Hall, 76 sacred offices, and east and west imperial archways. All these buildings are divided into six courtyards which are separate but connected along the central axis.

The temple is well known for housing many figures of deities, couplets and plaques, and stele inscriptions. It enshrines Emperor Dongyue and related deities as well as founders of many trades or professions. The great number of deities it enshrines translates into little difficulty in finding the suitable ones to worship, which has been attracting, since ancient times, a huge number of worshippers. All the gates of the halls are flanked or topped by couplets and plaques inscribed with adages or sayings of great literary and artistic value, exhorting people to do goodness and keep away from evil.

In history the number of steles in the temple had ranked first in Beijing. A saying among old dwellers of Beijing goes to the effect that the number is uncountable, yet records show that it is more than160. Most of the steles record renovation efforts in the past dynasties and sacrifices offering by common people. Four very special steles have been given funny nicknames in a doggerel well known to old Beijing dwellers. Now there are 89 steles in the east and west ‘stele forests’ in the middle courtyard. After renovation, the temple has been made the only state-run museum of folk customs in Beijing, and named Beijing Folk Custom Museum. In 1999 the main courtyard was open to public.

The temple offers a series of programs for praying for good fortune, such as walking down the fortune road, rounding the fortune tree, and hanging the fortune plaques. The museum holds folk customs exhibitions all year round, and folk-custom garden parties on the Spring Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival, the Moon Festival, and the Double Ninth Festival.

Daiyue Hall: This is the main building of the temple. It was built in 1322, or the 2nd year of Zhizhi reign in the Yuan Dynasty; in the Qing Dynasty it was rebuilt during Emperor Kangxi’s reign and renovated during Emperor Qianlong’s reign. It enshrines Emperor Dongyue.

Master Zhang Stele: The account of Zhang’s career as a Taoist inscribed on it was composed and written by Zhao Mengfu, a calligrapher in the Yuan Dynasty. It is popularly known as the Taoist stele. It lies in the east ‘stele forest’ before Zhang Liusun Temple. It is a national first-class cultural relic.

Three kings and nine ministers: Yude Hall houses the figures of the king of heaven, the king of earth, the king of water, and their military and civil ministers. They were carved of nanmu in 1481, or the 17th year of Chenghua reign in the Ming Dynasty. As classics of ancient religious art, they are national first-class cultural relics.

Address:No. 141 Chaoyangmen Outer Street, Chaoyang District, Beijing