Written by Nov 6, 2006 09:11
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JinCi(晋祠) is a temple complex garden .
"Jin"(晋) refers to "Jin" river .
"Ci"(祠) refers to a ancestral hall or temple , built by people to pay tribute to an eminent ancestor .

It consists of many ancient building of different styles -- wooden ancestral hall ,temple , pavilion , terrace , granite pagoda ... they were built by ancient artisans of different dynasties , throughout the past thousands years , but scattered orderly and existed harmoniously with nature . It situated in the area from where the "Jin" river origin , on the foot of Hill named XuanWeng(悬瓮山) , about 25 kilometer southwest of TaiYuan .

The origin of JinCi(晋祠)

JinCi(晋祠) is also named ShuYu(叔虞) temple originally , According the legend , ShuYu(叔虞) of Zhou Dynasty[about 3000 years ago] was a lord with talents . he advocated to the development of agriculture and construction of irrigation systems , led his people a living of stability and wealth . Thus ,in order to pay tribute to him , people built a ShuYu(叔虞) temple in the area , from where the "Jin" river origin .

Now , follow me to visit some of famous scenic spots and spectacles of JinCi(晋祠) .

Let's start from the spirit of JinCi(晋祠) -- a spring named "evergreen"(难老泉) . It's the main tribute of "Jin" river . and it has been running along there for hundred thousands years , while looked as young and lucid as ever . When you look at the spring , you may feel it's also flowing into your heart . It's said reading good books purify your mind , I'd like to add , so do a visit to a lucid spring . Famous poets including LiBai(李白)[701-762] and FanZhongYan(范仲淹)[989-1052] , both of them had visited JinCi(晋祠) , and praised the spring(难老泉) in their poetries . It irrigates the soil and brings vitality and beauty to JinCi(晋祠) .

And you can tell it's vitality from the old trees towering to the sky . There are numbers of ancient trees in JinCi(晋祠) , the oldest one is a cypress(周柏) (exactly , they were twins .according to the legend , they were planted in the Zhou Dynasty). A famous writer O'YangXiu(欧阳修)[1007-1072] had praised the cypress twins of longevity , 900 years ago . So they must have been standing there for at least one thousand years . But it was a pity that one of them has been fell about 200 years ago . The one remained has it's trunk to lean against a younger cypress . looked like a old dragon in shape , it's crest still extending like a big umbrella , casting a big shadow on earth . Standing in the shade of the ancient tree , you would say , what a charming place it is .

As mentioned above , many famous intellectual had visited JinCi(晋祠) , and wrote down what they thought about JinCi(晋祠) , in their poetries , essays as well as epigraphs which etched on stones . One of the epigraphs --《晋祠之铭并序》--written by LiShiMing(李世民)[599-649](the second feudal lord of Tang dynasty , who was versed in calligraphy ) is one of the legacies of excellent calligraphy of that time now available . If you like Chinese calligraphy , never miss it .

Then let's take a look at the oldest ancestral hall now available in JinCi(晋祠) -- named 圣母殿 , famous for it's wooden Architectural style and colorful painted maid-servant statues . Built about 900 years ago , it's main function was to pay tribute to 邑姜(the mother of 叔虞) , thus to propaganda the feudal Chinese value of fidelity to their predecessors and feudal lord . Nowadays it served as a tourist attraction . What impressed me most about this building , was two delicate wooden dragons spiral around the pillars at the front door , the first time I visited JinCi(晋祠).

There are much more to see in JinCi(晋祠) , but it would be a hard work introducing all of them . So find out by yourself the next time .

(*If I was inaccurate in translation of names and places , please never hesitate to tell , I would be very appreciate . thank you .)

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