in Tao the only motion is returning
The nucleus construction of Purple Cloud Palace, the Grand Hall is the only existing double-eaved, lean-to-hill, wooden building. As one of the quite rare building of uplift wooden crossbeam construction in the history of the Taoist architecture, the Grand Hall is scientific and rational in structure and overall arrangement, harmonious and coherent in artistic style, united with surroundings as a whole, and unique in taste and features among the buildins in Wudang Mountains. Meanwhile, having absorbed the techniques of various times' artisans, the grand hall demonstrated great achievements of architectures in Ming and Qing Dynasties, therefore, worthy of visiting and researching.
Dazing and full of praise from travelers the inner part of the Grand Hall is. Carefully painted and well carved, the Hall is magnificent in vigour and craft idea, smooth and natural with sculpting, unsophisticated and gracious by decoration, solemn and exquisite over displaying. In the hall, five shrines are set there. Around the tabernacles hundreds of rare antiques are ablated. Most of the precious antiques, dynamic, vivid, and wonderful to see, were the images of Gods by clay sculpture and wares for worshipping during the Yuan, Ming, Qing Dynasties.
In the middle of the Shrine is ablated the image of Zhenwu. With a height of 4.8meters, the image is the biggest clay scul-pture. Another divine image made by paper and covered with pseudo golden leaves is the best preserved. And most ancient paper image comprehensively displays the marrow of craftwork in paper pasting, sculpting, gilding, colored drawing, antise-pticising and has great value in researching ancient paper pasting.
The fastigium of the Grand Hall consists of six colored-glaze flying-dragons. An Aquarius is surrounded by the dragons that are painted in three different colors. Due to the heaviness and highness, the Aquarius has to be drawn by four iron chains. Each end of the chain is attached to the hand of a divine kid. It is said that the four kids of deity has stuck to their positions in order to keep the Aquarius steady no matter it is chilly, scorching, rainy, windy or thundering. Because their special positions are even higher than the superior God, the four kids are also called Super Gods. While the plain people address them wretched kiddies.
After the rebuilding in 1412 A.D., the Grand Hall had been repaired about ten times in different times. Therefore, it can maintain its basic features. In 1994, the experts of world relic from UN inspected Wudang Mountains and said, "Here, we witness the sample of traditional remedial means to the ancient buildings."
On the third group of stone steps after entering Purple Cloud Palace, people will see the second Hall of Purple Cloud Palace, i.e. Worshiping Hall. Worshiping Hall is also called Shifang Hall, because formerly the location was inhabited by a thick jungle (Shifang Conglin in Chinese. Shifang means all directions) which is a boarding and lodging place for all Taoists from far distan-ce. It is said that during Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 A. D.) the pilgrims and the pious believers could only worship the God Zhenwu in the hall, while The Great Hall of Purple Cloud Palace was exclusively for the emperor to pray and sacrifice. That is why this Hall is called Worshiping Hall. Another outstanding function of the Hall was to treat the traveling Taoists from the outside World, that is to say, to accommodate the Taoist from Shifang (everywhere).
The Shifang Hall was built in the tenth ruling year of the third emperor of Ming Dynasty (1412A.D.). The sidewall of the Hall is like a "Ba"(Chinese character eight) in shape. On the wall, the jade flowers and the rare birds are decorated. Under the wall, the basic glazed bottom is set. Inside the Halls a brass gold-plating casting image is ablated in the middle part of the hall.
It is recorded that Wudang Mountains became the center of the Taoism during the Ming Dynasty. There were many Taoists continuously accommodating on Mount Wudang. Therefore, the Shifang Hall was set up in order to treat the traveling Taoists. Historically, Quanzhen School had made the principle that " Taoist from far distance are exempt from the pay for food supplies and firewood." That is to say, if accepted by the local Taoists' organization, traveling Taoists can eat and sleep in the Shifang Hall for a long time. But the process of being accepted was very strict, for regulations and the habits concerning how to walk, salute and talk, even the content of talking would be checked. This checking was just like the modern examination to distinguish fake Taoist.
In front of the Shifang Hall, people may overlook Imperial Stele Pavilion, the Green Dragon and the White Tiger Hall, the Pearl Peak and the Imperially Bestowed Sword Platform. Looking around, the old cypress, plank road built along the cliff, running water and green mountains are like a fascinating picture. The verve and omniscience of imperial architecture create an atmosphere of the piety from the bottom of your heart.
Across Golden Water Bridge, then along the stone steps, people may see The Green Dragon and White Tiger Hall. Over-looking the mountains, the green colored glaze palace with the structure of brick and wood is standing on the large platform. The outside wall, decorated with graphs of glazed jade flower, peacocks and so forth, has a shape of Chinese character "Ba" (eight). Inside the palace, the stern image, armored Official Wang with a whip in the hand (the most filial son before) is put in the center of the hall, accompanied by the clay sculptures of green dragon and white tiger on each side. The dragon and the tiger are depicted loftily, mightily, awesomely and vividly. It is researched that these two sculptures following the style of Liu-Yuanyi's, whose way was well-known during the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368 A.D.), are the most rare artworks of clay sculpture.
Among all the major temples and palaces, The Green Dragon and White Tiger Hall are built. In the hall, the dragon and the tiger are ablated in order to protrude the solemnity of the ceremony for worshipping Zhenwu. Moreover, in the traditional cul-ture of Daoism, the green dragon and the white tiger are closely connected to the method of cultivating the heart and nature culture. Between the positive and negative elements, the green dragon and the white tiger belong to these categories respec-tively. Combining the dragon with the tiger in the same hall metaphorically maintains Taoist ideas of cultivation: the two basic elements are mutually complementary. In other words, if properly transformed, one of the elements can be genital to another. Therefore, appropriate employment from the positive element in the liver may be fairly helpful to the recovery of the lung , which not only can adequately use one element to transfuse energy into the weak element, but also it can remove too much unnecessary, harmful or fatal opposite element.
The Parents Hall was built on the lofty platform at the back of Purple Cloud Palace. This area is full of tall ancient trees and green mountains, thus making it one of the best sights in Wudang Mountains. The Parents Hall of Purple Cloud Palace, a three-storied building, was built with wood and bricks. There were three shrines inside the hall and the statues of Emperor Zhenwu's parents, Emperor Mingzhen and Queen Shansheng, who were called St. Father and St. Mother by the Taoists, were worshiped in the middle shrine.
According to textual research, the Parents Hall was first built during the rule of Emperor Yongle in the Ming Dynasty, but was destroyed later. The existing one was rebuilt in the Qing dynasty, bearing the architectural features of that dynasty. There were Parents Halls in all large Temples in Wudang Mountains and that was one of the significant characteristics of royal temples in Wudang Mountains. It also reflected the religious features advocated by Wudang Taoism, which claimed the three religions (Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism) were originally synergetic.
In the Ming Dynasty, the emperor divided Taoism into two factions, i.e. Quanzhen and Zhengyi: those whose main activities were cultivating and making pills of immortality belonged to the former, while those whose main activities were uttering and writing invocations belonged to the latter. Since Quanzhen Taoism advocated that the three religions were originally synergetic. And its votaries all abided by this principle of their primogenitor Wang Chongyang who promoted the standards of filial piety, which changed the old principle that monks or nuns should refuse to have anything to do with all kin or friends. Therefore the Parents Hall was a hall used to worship parents and moralize the public. So Wudang Taoism also has the saying that "the three religions (Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism) were originally synergetic".
At the foot of Stretching Flag Mountain sits magnificent and boundless Purple Cloud Palace. Here, with a cluster of hills guarding the peaks, the thick wood of pine and green cypress and the elegant surroundings and comfortable weather, the place is thought the Blessed Place in Purple Cloud Palace View-site.
Purple Cloud Palace is an apotheosis of construction by employing the particular physiognomy that is cragged in length while wide and plain on breadth. All the buildings are arrayed along the axis. On the axis lie the Green Dragon and White Tiger Palace, Imperial Stele Pavilion, Shifang Hall, the Grand Hall of Purple Cloud Palace and Parents' Palace from the bottom to the top. The altitudes of these buildings gradually rises and the axis symmetries the wing houses of each construction. And through the way of stacking tall sidesteps, the Purple Cloud Palace is divided into three sections so as to form a kind of group construc-tions in which one row is upon another and the primary buildings are more distinctive than the secondary ones. From a far distance, the palace has the airs of imperial worshipping rites.
Historically, Purple Cloud Palace, because of taking the responsibilities of praying for royal families, had solemn overall ar-rangement, exquisite furnishings. Inside each various palace, the worshipped deities and celestial beings are enshrined. Toge-ther with the divine tables, obliging apparatuses and omniscient instruments, all these consist a mysterious and metaphysical world. The images created by Taoist legends are so vivid and various. Here, people may differ them from their status, divine responsibilities, specified occupations, dispositions and thoughts.
Emperor of Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties often issued their orders to set up altar so as to praise and pray for good fortune, or plead deities to bless the peace of their state and the plain people or the harvest of crops. In fact, this was a ritual of communicating with Gods. For Taoism thought through that way Gods would help the prayers, bless them to be away from the disasters and prolong their lifespans. At present, the Purple Cloud Palace is not only the best Choice to visit, but also the locus of the Taoism Association of Wudang Mountains. Here is the destination of experts from all over the world. Furthermore, it is the very source for Taoism researchers to search the origin of Taoism.