The Memorial Temple of Jin in Shanxi Province is located at the fountain-bead of the Jin River in the foothills of the Suspending Jar Hill, 25 kilometers southwest of the provincial capital city of Taiyuan. About ten kilometers to the southwest are the Tianlong Hill Grottoes, another famous spot.
The Memorial Temple of Jin was first built for Tang Shuyu, the founder of the tiny State of Jin during the Shang dynasty in the 11th century B.C. At present, it consists of the Hall of Holy Mother, the Hall of Tang Shuyu, and the Hall of Guan Yu, a well-known general of the period of the Three Kingdoms. In addition there are many pavilions and chambers scattered about the grounds. Together they form a harmonious architectural unit.
The Hall of Holy Mother was first built between 1023 and 1031 and was then rebuilt ln 1102 during the Song dynasty. In the shrine, seated in the middle of the hall, is the sculpture of’ the mother of Tang Shuyu, a solemn-looking Woman in rich dress. Along the walls is an array of 43 officials, 37 young maids and 6 eunuchs, each with an individual expression and posture.They are perfect examples of the skill of the sculptors of ancient China. The architecture is itself quite outstanding. Built nearly nine hundred years ago, it still remains standing intact. In front of the hall is the uniquely constructed“Flying Bridge Over the Fish Pood Spring.’’ This double wooden bridge in the shape of a cross is supported by stone posts embedded ill the spring. The beams, rails and stone posts form a spectacular laced pattern. Also in front of the Hall of Holy Mother is the Iron Figure Platform. On each corner of this square platform stands the figure of a deity cast in iron, guarding against flood. Flanking the Hall of Holy Mother are two octagonal pavilions, one standing over the Immortal Spring and the other over Benevolence and Goodness Spring. They were first built in 550 during the Northern Qi dynasty and still retain their original elegant style after the many reconstructions of the ensuring years.
The three springs-Immortal Spring, Fish Spring and Benevolence and Goodness Spring-originate on the Suspending Jar Hill. Jointly they form the source of the Jin River. Of the three, the Immortal Spring is the largest, flowing at 1.9 cubic meters per second. Fish swim among.
The duck weeds in the crystal clear water. According to legend there once was a young woman living in a village a couple of kilometers to the north of the Memorial Temple. Cruelly treated by her mother-in-law she had to fetch water every day, carrying it over a long distance. One hot summer day while carrying water on her way home she met an old man riding a horse. The old man asked her to give his horse some water and generously the girl allowed the horse to drink all the water she was carrying. In taking his leave the old man give her his whip in return for her kindness, telling her to put in under the water jar. Whenever she needed water she had only to brandish the whip and water would come up from the bottom of the jar. In this way she would be spared of the trouble of fetching water from so far away. When the old woman discovered how her daughter-in-law got water from the jar she decided to have a try herself. Brandishing the whip as her daughter-in-law did, water surged of the jar without a stop. Frightened, the old woman called her daughter-in-law to come and see what is wrong. The young woman who was combing her hair hurried in and hastily seated herself on the jar trying to stop the flow. The water would not stop; thus the spring came into existence. Today, beside the Immortal Spring, one finds the Tower of the Water Mother with the young woman seated on the jar, her long hair spread over her back just as the legend describes it. The tower was built by the local people in memory of the kind-hearted young woman who brought them the unceasing flow of water. Although the area is dry, with the Jin River, people have no need to worry about water supply.
A local saying goes:
The water may turns day and night,
Neither on heaven nor earth shall we rely.
Among other sights here at the Memorial Temple of Jin is a Chinese scholar tree of the Tang dynasty and a cypress tree. The Chinese scholar tree is l,300 years old, the cypress is ageless. The latter is said to have been planted during the Western Zhou dynasty( 11th century–8th century B. C.). It ls still green with new leaves every spring, but its old, hardy trunk leans on another aged cypress, the‘‘Sky Prepping Cypress”, for support.