High-level Taoist remains found in the Great Shangqinggong Temple in Longhu Mountain, Jiangxi Province
The Great Shangqinggong Temple was located at the foot of Longhu Mountain, Yingtan City, Jiangxi Province. Thanks to a four-year excavation, Jiangxi Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology together with Yingtan Museum made a systemic archaeological excavation to the site from 2014 to 2017. The excavation area reached 5000 square meters, where pieces of pottery and porcelain as well as building components were unearthed, It's the largest excavation ever conducted for a Chinese Taoist remains. We got to know the distribution, architecture layout and historical development, gaining an overall understanding of the Great Shangqinggong Temple.
Aerial Photo of the Great Shangqinggong Temple
Architecture remains and distribution
On the whole, the Great Shangqinggong Temple was laid out along the axes symmetrically. The main building extended along the mountain south to north from bottom to top as follow: Longhu Gate, Yuhuang Hall, Houtu Hall and Sanqing Hall. There were respective side halls along both sides. On the east were Sanguan Hall, Wuyue Hall, Tianhuang Hall and Wenchang Hall, connected by the corridor and the wing rooms and surrounded by brick walls. These buildings were located in the core area of the Shangqinggong temple. It can be confirmed that the main architecture was constructed in Ming Dynasty through archaeological stratigraphic analysis and historical document records.
Two building foundations of Qing Dynasty were exposed to the east of the Shangqinggong Temple— Chongyuan Courtyard, Tidian Department (Judicial Commission), as well as other remains like drainage ditch and water sink. The remains of Song and Yuan Dynasty including brick floor and ash pits had also been found in this area.
Most of the assemblages from the Great Shangqinggong Temple were building materials and daily utensils. The building materials consist of glazed components, grey pottery and stone components. Glazed components were mainly eaves tiles, dripping tiles (Dishui, kind of special building components for the leading off of rainwater from the eaves), semi-circular tiles, plate tiles as well as other edge decorating tiles. The main colors were yellow, green and black. The grey pottery components were carved ridge tiles while stone components were pillars, pillar base and pillar heads.
Tidian Department (Judicial Commission)
The utensils consist of porcelains of different styles and patterns from Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties. Porcelains of Song Dynasty took up a large portion, mainly greenish-white porcelains (having the trait of a white glaze with a bluish or greenish tint). A small number of porcelains from Jian Kiln and Jizhou Kiln were also included. The types were bowls, dishes, dishes with double-fish pattern and ewers and so on. The unearthed Yuan Dynasty porcelains were mainly egg white glazed bowls, dishes and cups. The unearthed porcelains of Ming Dynasty were mainly blue and white porcelain from folk kilns, among which goblets, imitated Longquan-kiln bowls and dishes were common and a small amount of glazed white porcelains were also included. The unearthed porcelains of Qing Dynasty were mainly blue and white bowls and cups.
The foundation of the Great Shangqinggong Temple was well preserved. Thanks to the excavation, archaeologists have obtained a clear picture of the basic characteristics of the Taoist activities here and discovered the superposition of geological layers from the Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties, and the architecture styles in these periods, The Great Shangqinggong Temple is the largest Taoist Temple with the highest grade, the clearest time sequence and the richest relics in China. Its excavation was a significant breakthrough in Chinese religious archaeology and offered abundant materials for systemized and scientific research into Taoism study. (Translator: Yuan Yuan Photograph:China Cultural Relics News)