Sacred Places in China, by Carl F. Kupfer, , at sacred-texts.com
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MAP OF POOT'OO.
This islet is one of the Chusan Archipelago, situated in the 30° North latitude and 122° 25´ East longitude. This archipelago includes over one hundred islands and takes its name from Chusan, the longest of the group, which is over twenty miles long and six to ten miles wide. Poot’oo lies a little over one mile east of the Whang Head, is irregular and curiously shaped, about four miles long and very narrow at some places. The ceaseless march of the ocean tide has washed away all arable soil until the bare granite rocks along the shore resisted their incursion, except in a few small sheltered bays, where sandy beaches offer delightful sea bathing. Above the jaggy beach, however, enough soil remains, covering the coarse granite, to produce a rich foliage to the summit. The view from Lookout House, the highest point, about 970 feet above the sea-level, athwart the ridges and down the valleys upon the bestudded main, is highly picturesque and extremely delightful.
On approaching the island the visitor is landed at the southern point upon a well-built stone jetty, from which a broad, well-paved road leads to the three main temples. The front is called Universal Salvation Temple. The rear is called Rain-Producing Temple, and there is another called Wisdom's Salvation Temple. Smaller roads branch off in all directions, leading to grottoes, temples, and shrines of all sizes and shapes. As of ancient Judah, it can indeed be said that "in the high places and on the hills and under every green tree" the gods are worshiped, and even in the rocks images are hewn. These walks are lined with large, shady trees, and aromatic shrubs diffuse the air with a pleasant fragrance.
The numerous inscriptions chiseled into rocks along the pathways are an evidence that the whole island is devoted to the propagation of the doctrine of the Goddess of Mercy. Here are a few specimens:
"With a reverent heart take a look. The Law of Buddha has sacred affinity. The Goddess regards all men with kindness. Even the stupid stones bow their heads. The Buddhist kingdom together ascends. Ascend and enter the region of formlessness. Ascend and behold the Bodhi—supreme wisdom. Illusory light rises in the East."
On a stone tablet set on the top of a hill are the following inscriptions:
"There is a sacred island on the sea. Over the sea there is a Buddhist kingdom. I put my trust in Amida Buddha. There is another world."
On the opposite side of the tablet is the following:
"Only virtue is original. There is also Wisdom's Salvation Temple. With reverence be cautious not to kill living creatures. Do not pour hot water upon the ground, lest living creatures be injured, and when walking, be careful not to step on anything living. Such is the heart of the Great Conveyance and of Supreme Wisdom, necessary to the enlightenment of Buddha. With uprightness of heart cultivate the body. Be most careful to guard against avariciousness. If these worldly desires are not entirely exhausted the sacred fruit is not complete. Let all under heaven give reverence, and ascend to the other shore. Read good books and speak good words. Do good deeds and be good men. Imitate good examples and retain a good heart. Read the Buddhist ritual and worship Buddha. Abstain from meat with a reverent purpose, and do good in abundance."
In a conspicuous place the following exhortation is inscribed:
"In a Buddhist Classic there is a law in which it is said, 'kill not.' In explanation of this observe: above there are
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THE HARBOR AT HIGH TIDE.
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LANDING OF THE PILGRIMS.
all kinds of gods, holy men, teachers, monks, and parents; below there are four footed beasts, birds, wriggling worms, and small insects. All that has life should not intentionally be killed. In this classic it is also said: `The winter months breed lice, take them and put them into a bamboo joint, keep them warm with cotton, and give them oily food to eat lest they might freeze or starve.' Such is the doctrine of the Goddess of Mercy."
Following the path that leads eastward along the shore until the northeastern point is reached, a place of unusual interest is seen, called the Fan Yin Tung (Buddhist Echo Cave). In an almost perpendicular rock, over one hundred feet high, is a wide cleft extending back into the rock so far that the end can not be seen from the temple bridge built across the chasm about midway. When the waves dash. against the rocks at the bottom of this cliff, and the sun shines upon the spray and mist rising up into the clefted rock, a natural phenomenon appears, the colors similar to those produced by the sun's rays falling upon raindrops are seen. The devout Buddhists firmly believe that this natural appearance is a living Buddha. A priest said to us, "Only believers can see him." When visiting this place, two elderly women were worshiping upon this temple bridge. After making their prostrations facing the cleft, the old Taoist recluse in charge of this shrine directed their attention to the place where the Buddha would appear. They looked, and they looked, until nature was in their favor, and the sun broke through the clouds, and they saw their heart's desire—the Living Buddha —a fraction of the rainbow.
Because of this belief, in the early days of Buddhism, many devout believers cast themselves down over this precipice in the hope of thus attaining to Buddhahood. A magistrate of Ting-hai, hearing of this, wrote a proclamation in which he exhorted the people not to act so foolishly. He assured them that all who cast themselves down over this precipice
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KIOSK CONTAINING STONE TABLETS WITH INSCRIPTIONS WRITTEN BY KANG HSI.
would not be protected by the goddess, and would obtain no benefit; but the people did as before. Then he wrote a book and called the attention of the public to the moral nature of this abuse. "They who injure their bodies," said he, "injure their parents, and can not be considered filial. Think of the harm to yourselves in throwing your bodies among those rocks, where they will be dashed in pieces by the waves and eaten by the fish. And think of your families, your fathers and mothers, your wives and children. You came here to worship the Goddess of Mercy, to obtain blessings for your home, and word comes that you have destroyed yourselves. What grief! What sorrow! The goddess does not want such offerings; she herself will be distressed. If any want to sacrifice their lives, let them do so upon the altar of their country, and all will know that some good has come to the world through their devotion. As your official, I consider it my duty thus to exhort you." This book had its desired effect.
Since then the government of this island has become independent of civil jurisdiction, being ruled by the abbots of the chief monasteries. The abbot of the Rear Temple seems to possess more than ordinary business ability, judging from the clean and orderly condition of this temple. He is said to be an ex-compradore of Ningpo and Shanghai. Their mode of government is much the same as the civil government. A priest at Futing-san told us that even the power of administering capital punishment was in their hands, but the island being the home of supernatural beings and so many gods spreading spiritual light, corporeal punishment was seldom required. This priest had an exalted opinion of the deep spiritual enlightenment of their fraternity. When he was asked whether the older priests admonished and exhorted the younger, he indignantly replied: "How can we be exhorted when we have once comprehended the doctrine!"
The next point of interest was the many miraculous legends told and believed by the people. The most of them
have the coloring of historical authenticity, giving names and dates, but they lack in credibility. The oldest reach back as far as the T’ang Dynasty. We can only give a few:
The Emperor Tai Ho, who reigned near the middle of the ninth century, 827–836, was said to be passionately fond of holi, a species of clam. So the people of these isles yearly sent him all they could gather, even greatly overtaxing themselves for their Emperor. One day, as he was eating of his favorite dish, he found one with a hard shell which he could not open. He cleaved it with a knife and found within an image of the Goddess of Mercy. When he saw this he was frightened, and commanded that the image be incased in a sandalwood casket, overlaid with gold, and placed in the Imperial palace. Then he asked a priest named Wei Chen what this meant. The priest replied: "The goddess desires to open thy heart that thou mayest be temperate in all thy desires." Whereupon the Emperor no longer pressed the people to send him clams, and issued a proclamation that an image of the goddess should be placed in every temple.
Another story is told of the same period, that a priest burned his fingers to show his zeal for the goddess. When his fingers were almost burned off, she appeared to him and comforted him for his faith and devotion.
During the Posterior Liang Dynasty, in the reign of Chen Ming, 915, a Japanese priest named Hui Ngo brought an image of the goddess from Wutai, and was going with it to his home in Japan. When his boat came into the sea of the water lilies, near Poot’oo, it was in danger of being wrecked. So the priest prayed to her and said: "If it is thy pleasure to go with me to my country, I am willing to go with thee wheresoever thou wilt have me to go." After this the boat smoothly glided on its way, and soon came to the landing in front of the Chao Yin Tung, the Tidal Echo Cave. Below the cave lived a man named Chang, who gave his own house to the priest for a temple, and the temple was named "The Unwilling
to Depart Goddess of Mercy Temple." It is not now in existence.
In the Sung Dynasty, the Emperor Yüan Fêng, in the third year of his reign, 1081, sent a minister named Wang Shun-fung to Corea. On his way he encountered a terrific storm, and a large sea monster came to overthrow his boat. Terrified he prayed; as he was looking intently toward the cave in the distant island he saw the goddess coming out of the cave, dressed in gold apparel and adorned with rich jewels. Immediately the monster left him and the sea was calm. He returned in peace and informed the Emperor of his experience, who ordered the place to be called the "Precious Declivity."
In the Sung Dynasty, the Emperor Ch’ung Ning, in the year 1102, sent two Ministers of State to Corea, named Lin and Wu. On their return they passed through the Chusan Archipelago. When sailing among the islands, a dense darkness came upon them, and for four days they did not see either sun or moon. In their distress they remembered the goodness of Goddess of Mercy on Poot’oo, and they worshiped, when suddenly the surface of the sea was illuminated with a brilliant light, and they proceeded rejoicingly on their way, and soon saw Chao pao san, the Hill of Precious Beckoning, near Ningpo, from which they went to the mainland.
During the Southern Sung Dynasty, the Emperor Lung Hsin, in the year 1163, dreamed that he was in Poot’oo, where he saw many wonderful signs of the greatness of the Goddess of Mercy. After this he composed an ode in which he praised her greatness, ascribing to her the ability of accommodating all persons, and of being able to reveal all mysterious doctrine. And he called upon all his subjects to do her homage, for no other god was equal to her in wisdom and goodness, promising to all men what they prayed for. "Her mystery man can never understand," he exclaimed.
In connection with the image which refused to go with
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THE SACRED CAMPHOR TREE AND KIOSK CONTAINING INSCRIPTIONS WRITTEN BY K’ANG HSI.
[paragraph continues] Hui Ngo to Japan another story is told. This image was continually working miracles, so that the people of other places and cities also desired her patronage. Whereupon a certain priest came to Poot’oo, bought a good piece of sandalwood, entered the temple and closed the door. He worked for one month, carving a facsimile image and disappeared with his newly-carved goddess. In the Southern Sung Dynasty, during the first year of the Emperor Chia Ting, 1208, the image which the priest had carved lost a finger. When the priest in whose temple the image was at this time saw the mutilated limb he was terrified. In his agony, as he was looking towards Poot’oo, behold a flower came floating along from the shore below the cave, bearing the missing member. This image is now in Chao ying tung.
In the Southern Sung Dynasty the Emperor Hsien Shun, during the year 1265, had a high official named Fan, who had diseased eyes. He sent his son to Poot’oo to pray. The prince brought some water from a spring below Chao ying tung, with which the statesman washed himself and was cured. Again the Emperor sent his son to offer thanks to the goddess. Having discharged his obligations, he was sitting by the cave when the goddess revealed herself in a cloud of smoke in which she was veiled. When the young prince came to another cave he saw the servants of the goddess standing face to face by his side. They were dressed in white garments with crowns upon their heads, both looking towards him as if they wished to speak.
The following two legends are assigned to the Yuan Dynasty. In the thirteenth year of the emperor Chih Yüan, A.D. 1264, a high official was sent with a Lama priest to the Southern isles to restore order. Upon his arrival he expected to see the goddess as others had seen her, and when no vision appeared he was angry and shot an arrow into the cave and took his departure. On his homeward way he was surrounded by water lilies so dense that all progress was impossible. Fear
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REST HOUSE OVER THE POND AT THE CHIEN-SZ.
THE TIDAL WAVE TEMPLE.
fell upon the warrior, and he repented of his unbelief and hasty action. Returning to the cave, the goddess revealed herself to him, dressed in white and attended by her maid servant; whereupon he ordered a temple to be built over the cave.
In the fifth year of the Emperor Ta Tê, A.D. 1302, a man of literary distinction, named Chu san fung san, was sent to worship on the Li Mountain. On his way hither he passed Chao ying tong, where the goddess appeared to him, wearing a crown and necklace of precious jewels, holding in one hand a willow branch and in the other a blue glass cup. During her visible presence the cave was filled with light.
The Ming Dynasty was specially fruitful in producing interesting legends. In the twenty-second year of the Emperor Yung Loh, A.D. 1424, on the tenth month and nineteenth day, the goddess revealed herself in the Tidal Echo Cave, dressed in white and attended by a dragon king and his daughter, who were accompanied by a host of servants. From ten to eleven o'clock they opened wide their eyes and made a sorrowful countenance. By twelve o'clock their countenance had changed to purple and they stood facing the wall. At six P. M. they were seen at the Archer's Cave, and a god dressed in white, wearing a golden crown, was seen sitting in the midst of the sun, and Bodhisattoa was standing under the sun, while the Lohans were walking upon the sea. On the following morning at six o'clock a god with a purple gold body was seen in the cave.
In the second year of Hsüan Tê, A.D. 1428, and the fourth month, Yen Loh Wang, the Ruler of Purgatory (the Chinese Pluto), with his two daughters were seen in the cave.
In the year 1575, the second year of Wan Li, a priest, named Pieh Chuan, was on his way upon the sea to Poot’oo, when he saw in the sky a goddess dressed in white, flying westward, while another priest, named Tsai Fung, saw her passing over Chêntu, the capital of Szechuan.
Six years after this a priest named Ta Szyung came to this island and found the conditions very favorable. The desire of his heart was to build a temple, and he came to the cave where the Goddess of Mercy dwelt, and prayed, "If I should build a temple here, give me a sign." In the evening of the same day he saw the tide bring in a large bamboo. "There," said he, "is the sign," and he built a Tidal Wave Temple.
In the fourteenth year of the Emperor Wan Li there lived a Hangchow priest at Poot’oo, whose mother was a most ardent worshiper of the gods. She was also a vegetarian, and went about collecting subscriptions for temples. One day as she was soliciting gifts an idol was given her. The neck of this idol was of gold, and she gave it to her son, the priest. When he saw that the neck was of gold, he coveted the valuable metal and engaged a workman to peel it off; but no sooner had the workman begun his sacrilegious work than he dropped dead. Soon after this the mother came in her wanderings to Poot’oo. When the priestly son saw her he began to curse and said, "The one who injured me has come," and he dealt her a slap with the hand. After rushing over the hills in his madness he cut his throat, but before dying he said to his colleagues, "Follow not my example, for if you do, you will come to the world of misery."
Four years after this, on the tenth month, the priests of the island had an altercation which they could not settle among themselves. So the case was submitted to the magistrate at Tinghai. When he came to the island to settle their trouble, his faith in Buddhism and the pretensions of the priests was thoroughly shaken, and he took a set of the standard Classics of the Lotus School and burned them and made the priests walk over the ashes. That night he had a dream. In his dream he saw a sacred man coming to him, who explained to him the meaning of the Buddhist doctrine, and then said: "Heretofore you believed this doctrine, and now you
persecute it; for this you can not obtain forgiveness. In the spiritual world you will have to become a herdsman." Hearing this he was deeply grieved, and he begged the idol to forgive him; also a priest named Ta Chih prayed to the idol for him. Soon after this he had another dream, when Buddha appeared to him and said, "Forgiveness may be granted if you replace one hundred volumes for every volume you have destroyed." With this the magistrate gladly complied and returned to his island city, where he had one hundred sets of the Classics printed and sent to Poot’oo.
The following are of the Ch'ing Dynasty. In the reign of the Emperor Shun Chih, about the middle of the seventeenth century, there was a pirate chief named Nü Chin, who consulted with a Japanese priest to take to Japan all the Buddhist books which the Emperors of the Ming Dynasty had presented to the monasteries of Poot’oo. When a priest named Chao Chung came with several hundred priests and begged the chief not to rob them of their books, he became angry and said, "If you want these books, you will have to descend into the depth of the sea and confer with the dragon king in his yamên," and forthwith he set sail for Japan. When far out upon the ocean, behold, a great fish prevented his boat from going any further. All skill was baffled, and he was in great despair. He repented of his evil and returned, when a fair wind brought him to Poot’oo in less than half a day. The priests all rejoiced and replaced the books in their respective libraries.
In the third year of K’ang Hi, the first month and the first day, the priests at Poot’oo saw a crescent-shaped white light resting with one end upon the top of a temple and with the other upon a hill not far distant. And they saw the goddess dressed in white walking from the temple over this arch to the adjoining hilltop. From this they concluded that evil would soon befall this temple. One year later foreigners came to this island and took all the idols, banners and curtains, and
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TA TIEN OF THE CH'IEN SZ. THE MAIN HALL WITH ITS GLORIOUS GOLDEN TILE ROOF.
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THE ECHO CAVE.
carried them off to Japan, where they were sold for Tls. 200,000. On their return to their native land their ship was destroyed by fire, and they all perished in the sea. The same year pirates made a raid upon the island, burning the temple and smelting the copper images. When they came to the Rear Temple, the robbers, eager to plunder, pressed into the inner parts, while the front was set on fire, and thus they perished by their own hands.
Some years after this, in the Spring, when the tide was high, a fleet of gunboats passed this island. The sailors went ashore and found the temple all destroyed and the place clean, as if no one had lived there. Upon their return they were pursued by numerous poisonous snakes, also many vicious dogs came out of the jungle. Many of the sailors were bitten and perished. All because the god had been ill-treated and the temple destroyed. During the latter part of this year the Ningpo admiral came to this island with his ship, and his soldiers found a bronze image which they took with them. When they were on their way, the ship became so heavy by the weight of the god that it began to sink. The admiral, suspecting that something was wrong, searched the ship. When he found the god he ordered him to be returned, and his ship regained its buoyancy.
In the twenty-first year of K’ang Hi a literary man named Kao-Sz-chi wrote the book of Rewards and Punishments, a kind of commentary of modern Taoism. His wife embraced the Buddhist religion and also read the Chin Kang Chin, the Diamond Sütra—the Sutra of the Pradjna, which is able to crush diamonds. In the fourth month of this year she became ill and knew herself that she could not recover from her illness. On the twenty-seventh day she became unconscious, but soon revived, when she repeated the Sutra and said: "If I can but re-establish a temple on Poot’oo Isle, I shall live two years more." But on the fourth day of the following month she died. Before her death her husband
requested of her a petition. "If in the Kingdom of Shades you really do not suffer agony, I want you to let me know through a dream." She nodded with her head and departed. On the second month and the seventh day of the following year her eldest son had a dream. In this dream he met seven or eight aged priests walking in a forest. Said one of them to him: "Would you like to see your mother? If so, come into my sleeve, and I will take you to Poot’oo." Immediately they were on the island, where he saw many large temples, and in one, named the All Pervading Majestic Temple, a number of priests were chanting prayers. One of their number said: "If any one will repair this temple his merit will last through all generations, and neither in this life nor in the life to come will he be exposed to the turning of the wheel and subject to transmigration, but in heaven and among men he will have all kinds of blessings." This promise spoken, he saw his mother dressed in a yellow and pink coat and a white skirt, folding her hands, as if in prayer. She said: "The doctrine of the Sûtra fills all space, its grace reaches to all, and all men under heaven should honor it. Through the help of Buddha I have learned all this doctrine and have not forgotten a word. My heart is fixed. I have attained supreme intelligence; in all eternity I can never be changed. Tell this to your father, that he may not be concerned about me." While thus dreaming, he heard the rushing of water, and awoke. When the father heard this, he said: "This, my son, is honest, and would not tell a lie, hence I will write what he has seen and heard in his dream upon my garments." On the first day of the tenth month he burned these clothes in sacrifice, that his departed wife might see his devotion.
In the year 1691, the twenty-ninth year of K’ang Hsi, the spirit of miracles seems to have departed from Poot’oo. It was during this year that the Chentai (General) of Tinghai came to the Buddhist Echo Cave, where a god appeared to him. His face was red, eyebrows heavy, beard long, eyes
white and brilliant, and his nose a mere white speck. He wore a crown which shone like a flame of fire, and his garments were yellow and black with a broad collar, all loose and flowing, with one arm bare. Upon his head stood a little bare-footed Bodhisattoa. When the general made prostrations before this goddess, he (the god) disappeared. The god mentioned here is a metamorphosis of the Goddess of Mercy, which may be male or female.
No description of Poot’oo could give satisfaction without trying to describe at least one of the many temples. All sizes included, there are doubtless nearly one hundred. We choose the Universal Salvation Temple, also called the Front Temple from its location, being the first large temple the pilgrims see when coming from the landing. Like most temples in China, it faces the south, lying in a quiet valley, basking in the noonday sun. All that nature and Chinese art have done has rendered it quite an enchanting scene. The main buildings are covered with green and yellow tiles, indicative of imperial distinction, and are kept in a remarkably good condition. But an indisputable characteristic of the Chinese is here also clearly seen. The buildings, which cost them nothing, are very much neglected and in a dilapidated condition. The two pavilions housing the Imperial Tablets of K’ang Hsi, standing in the most prominent places of the two largest temples, are not only neglected, but subjected to a most sacrilegious use, having practically become the rendezvous of barbers and beggars, with all their belongings. We would not attempt a minute description of this temple, but only give an outline of its arrangement. We may say here that the Chinese seem to have great liberty in arranging the position of certain gods. It would be difficult to find two temples exactly alike.
Approaching this monastery, the visitors enter a shady avenue, where stands a stone arch of considerable age. It much resembles the ordinary arches which perpetuate the
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THE TEMPLE OF ATTRACTIONS.
memory of virtuous widows, of whom China seems to have had many. Upon this arch are Tibetan inscriptions, a conclusive proof that Lama priests from Tibet or Mongolia have made pilgrimages to these shrines. Between this arch and the temple ground proper is a large lotus pond, spanned by a moss and ivy covered bridge. This pond teems with fish, and is the receptacle of much that might seem distasteful to these sacred vertebrate animals, but they leisurely seem to enjoy it. Beyond the bridge stands the pavilion, which contains three tablets. The center tablet is of a dark blue marble, fifteen feet high, five feet wide, and one foot thick. It stands upon a pedestal two and a half feet high. The inscription upon it was written by the Emperor K’ang Hsi in the forty-third year of his reign, the eleventh month and the fifteenth day. The following is a free translation:
"Studying the Buddhist religion, I learned that there were sacred mountains. One of these is located in the Southern sea. These books, however, did not give much accurate information. During the change of dynasties front the Ming to the Tsing, we were tossed in revolution all around; the island was overthrown by pirates, and all the temples were destroyed by fire. After the twenty-second year of my reign peace and order were established. Priests returned from the mainland, looked up the old foundations, cleaned away the weeds and debris, and began to build anew. When I came to the Cheh-kiang province, I sent an official to reverentially rebuild the temples and worship, and I myself prayed, saying, "May the temples forever keep (the sea) in subjection." Having prayed thus, I also sent gold for the repairs of the temples. The corridors and windows I ordered to be embellished with red and green, and all the beams beautified. Every beam and every stone was given by the Government, and all the artisans and laborers were paid by the Government. This I did for my parents above me and my people below me.
"When I was young I read historical classics, in which
[paragraph continues] I learned how to cultivate the body, the home, and to execute government affairs in important matters. At that time I had no leisure to read the litanies, and they seemed to me as empty shadows, for I did not know the meaning of the mysterious Buddhist doctrine. Now I have learned that heaven is the greatest good, and the goddess rests upon this good, hence there can be no difference between the two. Heaven delights to create and give life to all creatures. The goddess is of great mercy in saving all that has life, hence she is not second to heaven. I have prayed for the Government to be active on behalf of the people for over forty years. And although there is no more rebellion in the land, yet the people are not fully at rest. The people are not yet pure-minded, and the ignorant are easily moved upon. In times of floods, droughts, and failure of crops, unseemly depredations are committed. These things never left me, even though I was asleep. I trusted to the great mercy of the goddess. I prayed that clouds of mercy, showers of rain, sweet dew and favorable winds might come to give a plentiful year to the people, and benevolence and longevity might prevail. If thus the goddess could save the nation and gain great merit, great good would also come to the world. This is my honest wish. Therefore I have written it to be cut into a stone tablet, that men may read it for all ages to come."
One month later he wrote an eulogy on the Goddess of Mercy, which is inscribed on a tablet at the Rear Temple. In this he says:
"I have heard that the goddess is all wise and has a wonderful appearance, that she is the origin of all truth and has opened a way to experience, giving evidence of the wisdom of the gods. Coming to this island, the moaning of the waves and the chanting of prayers can be heard, the deep purple temples can be seen, and peace can be had as expansive as the wide sea. But the goddess has other temples on Poot’oo besides this rain-producing temple. This renowned island
has become a kingdom of the gods. It is like a ship of mercy upon the great sea; hills blue as the fleecy sky, and high as the heavens of Brahma; upon this lucky, clean place the waves dash up to bathe the sun. Its reputation stands as a pillar, supporting the sky. From its summits all places are connected.
"But when a time of trouble came, the priests scattered, as the morning clouds and the ashes of the burning temples were driven by the wind. Now, since happiness and peace have been restored, and the waves of the troubled sea cease to roar, the priests longingly looking to this place have returned. Special imperial grants were bestowed to aid in rebuilding the temples, to accomplish which it took much time, but they wearied not. When laying the foundations they beat a drum to stimulate the workmen to activity. In building, they did not erect pearl halls with precious doors, but used the huge turtle for the base of the pillars and the iguana for beams, that they might know how to cross the stream of error, that leads astray. The precious image of the goddess they seated in a natural colored lotus flower. Having furnished all, they placed a shining wheel of the Buddhist law on the building, and planted the purple bamboo in the forests. When majestic images were arranged in all the halls, then clouds of mercy spread over the earth, and the Emperor gave the temple the beautiful name Fa Yü (Law of Rain). Heaven can boast of protecting the doctrine of the gods; for they are established high, like a beacon cloud, and ships will come from all kingdoms to do them homage. Thus all can cross the stream upon the raft (Buddhist doctrine), and ascend the other shore.
"Now, since the great temple is completed, I pray that my mother may be blessed with long life; for this I borrow mercy. May my people also obtain many blessings! And may benevolence and longevity abound, and all under the brightness of the moon be filled with mercy. Let this be
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FA YÜ—THE LAW OF RAIN, OR RAIN-PRODUCING TEMPLE.
carved into a good stone tablet that all who come may read it."
Leaving this pavilion, we see to the right and left two little three-storied kiosks, half hidden in the shady grove. In the one to the right is an image of a patron saint, in the other an image of Ti Tien Wang, the ruler of the Ten Halls in Hades. The first temple building we enter might be denominated the Protection Hall. Like most regularly constituted Chinese monasteries, it contains images of the four great kings, standing near the east and west wall, facing each other, Milehfu sitting on an elevated altar in the middle of the hall, and Weit’o standing on the opposite side looking north.
These four kings were brothers, and lived about 1100 B.C. They are supposed to be protectors of Milehfu, governing the center of the universe. Their faces are red, green, white, and black. The one with the red face holds an umbrella in his hand, with which he overshadows the universe. If he opens it, all is turned into chaos, sun and moon refuse to shine, and darkness covers the earth. The one with a green face holds a zither in his hands, and when he strikes upon it fire and wind come forth. The black faced one looks ferocious, and is supposed to be the eldest of the brothers. He holds in his hands an animal, which he has charmed into submission to do his will. The white faced one seems less ferocious, and holds in his hands a sword. When he brandishes it myriads of arrows fly in all directions, destroying all that would injure Buddha and his doctrine.
Between the four kings, in the midst of the hall, sits, in a glass encasement, "Laughing Buddha," the Merciful One, who is expected to appear and open a new era about three thousand years hence, when he will take the place of Shakyamuni. He is the Coming Buddha, the Messiah. His friendly mien invites the worshipers to come to him with all petitions. His devotees are chiefly women, who beseech him that in
the next world they may be born men and not despised women.
Weit’o has a sword in hand, entwined with a gilt dragon. His stately bearing well becomes him as celestial protector. All the gods in this hall are still in the "wheel of the metempsychosis."
The space between this hall and the principal building is about one hundred feet wide. In it stand two miniature iron pagodas and a huge bronze incense-burner. This building is one hundred and fifty feet long and seventy feet wide. Two rows of pillars, six in each row, support the imperial yellow and green tile roof. Upon entering this lofty hall we see in the corner to the right an image of the celestial protector, Weit’o; to the left, a large drum over ten feet in diameter, and in the midst of the hall the main altar. At the front door, and over the altar, are curtains beautifully embroidered after patterns evidently very antique. In front of the altar are two brass incense holders, urns for flowers, and eight candle supporters. The tinsel and ornamental accessories upon the altar and images can not be described. Instead of the Three Pure Ones, Shakyamuni, Kaskiapa, and Ananda, upon the raised altar, as in the other Buddhist monasteries, there are here four images of the Goddess of Mercy. The temple being dedicated to this deity, she naturally occupies the most conspicuous place. The four stand in a row from the front of the altar to the rear. The first is the goddess standing. Directly back of her is a large gilt image sitting cross-legged upon a lotus flower. This image was sent from Tibet by the Emperor K’ang Hsi. She is beautifully draped with yellow silk, and wears the crown of the Boddhisattoas. The third stands in sacred reverence with a halo over her masculine head. Behind her is a monstrous male god, supposed to represent the ruler of the monastery, and who is denominated by K’ang Hsi as "The Savior of all Living Beings." All of these images have servants, except the
male gods. To the right and to the left of this altar are images of Kuo Hai and Sung Tsz, that is, the goddess that crossed the sea, and the giver of children. In place of the Eighteen Lohans (disciples of Buddha) along the east and west walls, there are thirty-two metamorphoses of the goddess, the Lohans being relegated to side chapels.
In a little room adjoining this building a scene of the lower world is represented. A Lohan is sitting upon a one horned sacred ox, which is standing upon a jagged rock. Under the rock is a cave. In the cave an official is holding court. Before him a man is kneeling. The executioner is near with his ax. To the left stands Weit’o, and to the right Ming Wang, the ruler of Hades.
The third building, directly back of the main hall, is exceedingly plain. In the northeast corner is a drum, in the southwest hangs a bell, in the northwest stands a Fu, holding a little pagoda in his hand; on the center altar are the Three Buddhas, all in perfect keeping with the plainness of the whole building. Upstairs, in a hall almost void of furniture, sits a goddess hewn from a precious white stone, found in Southern Tibet, called by the priests pehtsz yü, or white jade. She is loosely draped with a red silk cape, and were it not for the cynical smile playing upon her face, she might be considered a rare beauty. This room also contains the library.
The fourth and last of the temple buildings is even more plainly furnished than the third, but it contains, beyond all doubt, sculpturally, the finest work of art we have seen in China. It is a small image of the goddess, about three feet long, of like material as the one in the library building, a white, watery-looking jade. The image is modestly lying down within a glass case, gracefully resting her head upon her right arm, and is covered with beautifully embroidered red silk—a speaking likeness of the goddess of beauty. Visitors should not fail to look into this hidden compartment.
Near the monastery is a small stone pagoda four stories
high. It dates from the Ming Dynasty, being dedicated to the Emperor Wang Li, who reigned during the latter part of the sixteenth century, and it is probably the only structure on the island which survived the change of dynasties. The architecture is quite unlike modern Chinese, rather resembling Hindoo art. Twelve images are hewn in the four sides, which are supposed to have control of the elements of nature.
But what interested us more than the beautiful scenery, works of art, and strange legends was, in the first place, to observe the unmistakable keen sense of chastity in their idolatrous worship. Free from all vulgarism and meretricious ornaments, there was not even the suggestion of what might be offensive to the moral sense. However much we may pity the Chinese in their ignorance in worshiping the workmanship of their own hands, we can not help but admire their belief in the purity of their gods. The next point of supreme interest to us was the people who visit these shrines. To see something of their devotion we took passage from Ningpo on a regular pilgrims’ sailing boat. Forty-odd persons crowded on to the little barque. The room was quite insufficient for that number to lie down, but for one day and two nights they patiently sat without a murmur or complaint. They had come from various provinces, Chih in the north, Szechuan in the far west, and a goodly number from Hunan. Stoic resignation and privation seemed impressed upon every face, not because of a lack of vitality, but on account of the vows they had taken.
The earliest mention made of this island reaches back to the Liang Dynasty, A.D. 502–556. During the Sung and Yuan Dynasties reports are recorded of building and repairing temples. During the present dynasty special efforts have been put forth, both to beautify the temples and to increase their number, in the belief that the gods may spread great spiritual light. Let all who believe that the worship of the Goddess of Mercy is on the decline visit Poot’oo.