TaiyuanHistory Stories

The Legend of Mt. Wutai
Mt.WutaiIt is heard that Mt. Wutai was named Mt. Wufeng long before, which means five peaks. The climate here was extremely bad with freezing winter, melting summer, sandy spring and autumn. Crops stopped growing here and people were suffering untold misery. The missionary Manjusri, the Bodhisattva of wisdom, seeing such environment, decided to help people change the bad weather. Dressing as a mendicant Buddhist monk, Manjusri had traveled long distance to seek help from the Dragon King of the Eastern Sea. He found a huge green stone emitting cool breeze at the gate of the Dragon Palace, and then he took that stone back.

It was the hot summer with scorching sun and long time drought when Manjusri came back to Mt. Wufeng. After Manjusri placed the stone in the valley, the air in Mt. Wufeng suddenly turned cool and refreshing. Therefore, the valley was named “Qingliang Gu (cool valley), a temple was built later named “Qiangliang Si (cool temple)”, and Mt. Wufeng renamed “Qingliang Shan (cool mountain)”.

However, when the junior Dragon Kings came back to the Dragon Palace and found the green stone on which they always relied had been removed, they were angrily traced to Mt. Wufeng to search the stone everywhere. The indignant junior Dragon Kings swept the five peaks flat with their tails and scratched the rocks into a mess with sharp claws. Now the messed rocks are still all over the mountain, named “Long Fan Shi (Dragon Turned Stones)”.

Smart Manjusri told them that the stone was put into the cave between two huge rocks. When these junior Dragon Kings all entered the cave, the two rocks were closed by Manjusri’s incatation only leaving a narrow crack for light. Manjusri ordered the trapped dragons to practice Buddhism in the cave and asked his disciples to worship them. So that cave is also called “Chao Long Dong (Cave for Worshiping Dragons)”.

This legend has been generated for thousands of years. Although Qingliang Temple has declined, that cool stone is still there.

The Legend of Multi-blesing Temple (Duofu Si)
Multi-bless templeIn the top peak of Juewei Mountain, 20 km northwest to Taiyuan, there is a temple called Duofu. The steep Mt. Juewei is covered with pines and cypresses. Every year, flowers blossom at spring and a large piece of red appears at autumn throughout the mountain. The Red Leaves of Mt. Juewei is one of the famous sights in Taiyuan. The large-scale old temple with magnificent landscape is surrounded by a bent stream.

It is said that no water was nearby when the temple was first built at the second year of Tang Zhenguan (year 786 AD). To construct the temple, many people needed to carry water from Fen River downhill with a round trip of about two hours. Not long afterward, many people could not bare the hard work and soon gave up. Only two monks named Tian and Li sustained.

One day, while the two monks were carrying water up to the mountain, there came an old man and asked, “What would you do with the water?” “To build Jueweijiao Temple”, answered the two monks (the temple was named Duofu Temple later). “Build a temple?” the old man laughed and said, “Do you think it can be built by you two alone?”

The two monks said with one voice, “Dear uncle, don't worry. We two have the determination and believe it will be built alternatively.” “Do you have precautions to the difficulties?”the old man asked. Then they answered,"The sweetness usually comes after the bitterness, so we are confident in building the temple at last.”

The old man commended their firm spirit again and again, then looked them gently and requested, “I’m from Mt. Wutai and thirsty right now. Would you mind if I drink some water?”

Tian and Li complied and invited the old man to drink. The old man drank water with big mouth and in a moment, the water was drunk up by him. Then he asked, “I have drunk up the water you carried from downhill with great efforts. Do you regret?” The two monks did not angry, but said happily, “Dear uncle, we can go to carry water again if only you get comfort.”

The old man praised their sincerity, and took out a red box from his pocket. He gave the box to the two monks and said, “You two just take back the box and put it on the west field of the temple, then open it and wait. Remember not to open the box on the way back.” After saying that, a suddenly appeared lion carried the old man away at the moment. Then the two monks took the box back to the temple.

On the way back, they heard some noises from the box, and were all curious to see what was in the box. So they decided to open the box a little, and then were scared by an astonishing bomb. The box dropped on the ground and two water dragons came out. One of the dragons flied to Jinci Temple and became Jin Spring. The other flied to Lan Village and became Lieshi Cold Spring. After seeing two dragons flying out from the box, they quickly closed the box and put it on the west field of the temple. When they opened the box again, the left two little dragons got out and went into the ground. Suddenly, they became two pools of water (now we call it Dragon Pool).

Thanks to the spring, the temple was built smoothly and completed soon. Tian and Li thought later in the Buddhism only Manjusri Bodhisattva lived in Wutai Mountain with a lion, and the old man was just came from Wutai Mountain, so they guessed the old man must be the embodiment of Manjusri Bodhisattva. Later a palace of Manjusri Bodhisattva was built with the statues of the two monks standing on the two sides. People then all called them “She Li Er Seng” for memorizing the two selfless monks.

The Origin of Cold Food Festival
The statues of Jie Zitui and his motherThe day before the Tomb-Sweeping Day, people in the center of Shanxi province have a special traditional festival - Cold Food Festival, which is in memory of Jie Zitui, an honest official of Jin Kingdom in Spring and Autumn Period. In those days, Chong Er, an exiled prince of Jin Kingdom was almost fainted due to starvation, and just at that moment, Jie Zitui brought the prince some gravy soup, which helped the prince live through the difficulty. Actually, the soup was made by the flesh of the official’s leg.

After a few days, the prince finally got back to the Jin Kingdom and became the empire. When he dispensed rewards to officials, he forgot to honor Jie Zitui. When he realized his mistake, the kind-hearted official had retired and lived in Mt. Mian with his mother, refusing to come out to get the reward. Then, the empire ordered to set fire on the mount, hoping to force Jie to accept his reward. However, Jie chose to die with his mother together rather than to submit.

The empire did a bad thing for a good reason. With a great regret, the empire buried his savior at the foot of Mt. Mian, built up a temple to memorize Jie Zitui, and renamed Mt. Mian into Mt. Jie Xiu in the meaning of the place where Jie Zitui rested.

The day when setting fire on the mountain was just the day for the Tomb-Sweeping Day. Later, the local people decided to prohibit the flames and only eat cold food in order to memorize the honest official. 

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