Temple of the eight immortals (Ba Xian An)

Ba Xian'an Temple is located at the north side of Changle Fang Street, in the eastern suburb close to the east city wall of Xi'an City. It is the largest Taoism temple in Xi'an.

Daoism derived from China since the period of Eastern Han (25-220). According to the legend, Daoism has eight immortals known to the world. One day these immortals passed by the site of the temple and stayed for a time. Since some people thought that these immortals appeared to bless them, a temple was built on this site in order to make sacrifices to these immortals. Hence it was named as Ba Xian'an (namely, Temple of the Eight Immortals).

During several restorations of the later Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, the Ba Xian'an took on a larger diversity as it became a public place for the Taoist to learn its religious culture. Moreover, when the Eighth Allied Force invaded Beijing in 1900, the Emperor Guangxu and his mother, Empress Ci Xi, came to Xian to take refuge in this temple. She remained to write and also made financial investments here.

The entranceway to the Temple is wide and open. At present, the tall-wooded Ba Xian'an looks simple and serene. In front of the Temple, there's a huge Screen Wall with four Chinese characters "Wangu-Changqing (means remaining fresh forever)"on it.

There are three hill gates. The Bell Tower and Drum Tower stand on each side of the gate. The Temple is divided into four parts-the middle, the east, the west and the west garden. In the middle, there are the Linggong Palace, the Baxian Palace (the main palace) and the Doumu Palace; in the east, there are the Luzu Palace, the Yaowang Palace and other features as well; in the west, there are the Qiuzu Palace and the Jianyuan Room. The Temple covers altogether nearly one hundred Mu (Chinese acres).

Inside the temple, monks, their hair tie up in traditional Taoist fashion, play chess and are always keen for a chat. As you look at the temple murals, note the influence of Confucianism on its supposed alter-ego, Daoism: The eight immortals have a strict hierarchy, with Lu Dongbin in front on his tiger, the rotund Tieguai Li waddling along with his crook to his side, and the one woman, He Xiangu, near the back, carrying a lotus flower.

Outside the Temple, there are two-story ancient buildings all along both sides of the whole street. When you enter any room, you may find that all kinds of curios are on display. The decorations in the rooms are simple. Many old copper mirrors, screens, books, four treasures of the study (four things in Chinese study; they are pen, ink, paper and ink stone), copper swords, ancient falchion, gallipots, china, vases, jade small baubles and folding fans have been put together tightly inside the glass windows. While walking in the street outside the Ba Xian'an Temple, you will find the street to be filled with curio shops offering items such as Kwan-yin statues and baubles, small and large. In the street you should not miss the small booths on the ground. You may often find many precious and valuable items there. You may not realize their value because most are dirty and covered with dirt.

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