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Home >> China City Guide >> Beijing >> White Cloud Taoist Temple - Beijing trip guide
 
 

White Cloud Taoist Temple

 

Taoist Temple, Beijing China
Taoist Temple, Beijing
Taoist Temple

Situated in the Xicheng District of Beijing, the White Cloud Temple is one of China's major Taoist temples and was once the most influential Taoist temple in China. Today it is one of China's oldest and largest Taoist temples, housing the office of China Taoist Association. Actually, the White Cloud Temple is called Baiyun Guan in Chinese, because Taoist temples are not called temples but Guan. Guan means something like to look at or observe. This is a reflection of the Taoist belief that understanding the Tao comes from a direct observation of nature, rather than scholastic theological studies.

The temple was originally founded in 739 during the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907). At that time, it was called the Tianchang Guan which was built in Beijing to house a statue of Lao Tzu (the founder father of the Taoism). In 1202 during the Jin Dynasty (1115 - 1234) it burned down in a fire hazard, luckily, the statue inside was saved. In 1224, Genghis Khan, the founder of the Yuan Dynasty (1271 - 1368), ordered the reconstruction of the temple. Then it came to be known as the White Cloud Temple.

Since it has been burned down and been rebuilt, most of the buildings now date from the Ming (1368 - 1644) and Qing (1644 - 1911) Dynasties. The architecture under preservation currently was rebuilt in 1706, during Qing Emperor Kangxi's reign. The main constructions include the decorated archways with color paintings, Linggong Hall, Jade Emperor Hall, Laolu Hall, Hall of Qiuchuji and the Sanqingsiyu Hall.

It is generally laid out like a Buddhist temple but with some unique Taoist features, such as the superbly decorative triple entrance archway at the entrance symbolizing the Taoist three worlds: Desire, Substance and Emptiness. As one enters he will proceed through a series of halls mentioned above. Each hall is dedicated to a different Taoist deity. Buried in the compound are the remains of Qiu Chuji, a famed Yuan Taoist guru who lived in the temple all his life. For this reason Taoists in China regard the White Cloud Temple as their ancestral sanctuary.

The White Cloud Temple is the chief temple of the Quanzhen Taoist sect and the center of the Longmen sub-sect. It conducts traditional Taoist ceremonies and is crowded with bearded monks and their followers as well as tourists on Taoist holy days. The fair at Chinese New Year is particularly noteworthy.

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