Zhenguo and Shuanglin temples

 Zhenguo and Shuanglin


Wanflo Hall straight on 166 cropped

Pingyao’s two temples


When Pingyao was inscribed on the UNESCO list as a World Heritage Site, two temples were added to the town itself as being worthy of preservation. On our trip, we visited them both.  Here is my account of visiting  Zhenguo temple, and also the Shuaglin temple


Zhenguo Wanflo hall oblique 176The more important is the Zhenguo Temple, situated 8 miles north-east of Pingyao. The most important aspect is the central Hall known as the Wanfo hall, or the Hall of the Ten Thousand Buddhas. This is one of the oldest wood structures buildings in China, having been built in 963, in the Five Dynasties period, a chaotic period between the Tang and the Song dynasties.








Zhenguo eves 163It is square shaped and has very elaborately eaves which Nancy Steinhardt suggests may have been an attempt to render status to an otherwise insignificant building during a dynasty striving to survive. The date of the hall, 963, is given in a record in the Pingyao prefecture.







Buddha and roof 162Inside the hall is a huge statue of the Buddha accompanied by minor gods. The statues, which are elaborately painted, are said to be contemporary with the hall, that is dating to the tenth century. The ceiling inside the hall is also very elaborate.















Birds eye view 148The central hall now forms part of an elaborate monastery with courtyards both in front and behind it. In front , the entrance is through the Hall of the Heavenly Kings, originally built in the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), but since rebuilt many times.










Zhenguo heavenly king 153Inside are the statues of the four heavenly kings, each carrying a different Buddhist item.

















King of hell 175The other interesting hall is the Hall of the Kings of Hell, which was built in the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), and which has at its centre a statue of the king of Hell, with two monk-attendants name Ming Gong and Dao Ming. They are outstanding works of the painted sculptures of the Ming Dynasty.








The Shuanglin Temple


Shuaglin Hall of Heavenly Kings 190The other Temple we visited was the Shuanglin temple, 5 miles south west of Pingyao, which is also inscribed in the World Heritage list.

This claims to be an older foundation in AD 571, but it is survive less well and was substantially rebuilt in the Ming period. Indeed it is said to have suffered substantially during the Cultural Revolution.







Shuanglin Heavenly King 192Inside the temple are the four Heavenly Kings, but outside there are these four guardian warriors. These were made in the  Yuan dynasty ( 1279 – 1368)  while the hall itself  was  repaired during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).











It is difficult to assess the importance of the temples outside Pingyao. Would they be worthy of a place in the  World Heritage register were it not for the fact that they  are  near Pingyao?

However the Wanfo Hall in the Zhenguo temple has a paragraph in Nancy Steinhardt’s magisterial survey of Chinese architecture which marks its importance in the development of Chinese timber halls following the destruction of so many during the Tang repression of the Buddhists.




On to:

Buddhas: the great  Buddhist statues


The great Buddhist monsteries at Wutaishan


1st  January 2015