Entries on the Tanzhe temple are to be found in the genre of Yuan and Ming "comprehensive gazetteers" describing the empire that list among other things important temples in each locality. These massive compilations, intended for narrowly bureaucratic and scholarly purposes, informed the reader — in the case of the Tanzhesi — about the Buddhist monks who had founded the temple and given it distinction and about the Jin dynasty name under which the temple had been known.
A late Yuan and an early Ming local history of the capital area each also had an entry for the temple, repeating such information. In the s, a spurt of printed books about the sights of Peking systematically treated temples as places to visit.
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It seems to have been intended both for local elites like Yu and sojourners like Liu. In this period, men from elsewhere in the empire who had come to Peking to take the examinations, serve as officials, or sojourn on business were taking a more active role in capital society. This audience of educated and well-to-do visitors, like tourists everywhere, could be influenced and be influential. Through what they heard, read, and then described to others, they helped create fame, and their role in making known the sights of Ming.
Peking was not inconsiderable. Tanzhesi was presented in the Dijing in one of two chapters on the Western Hills. Sites in these low mountains northwest of Peking had developed during the Ming as favored watering holes of local society and figured prominently as places to visit. Tanzhe received an independent entry of average size in this section. This array of information created for the reader a complex impression of site, saints, and sights, and of imperial, clerical, and literati patrons. Some of the appended poems — selected from published works of their authors - — were written by literati visitors who had made the arduous journey to enjoy the summer shade or autumn leaves and who usually spent a night at the temple before returning to the city.
The poems remind us, as does a contemporaneous "Account by a Traveler to the Capital,"28 of the tourist landscape created by this community of educated mostly male readers. Their visits, although only lightly inscribed on the site itself,29 qualified Tanzhesi for the category of "sights of the capital" that visitors were expected to visit and commemorate in prose and verse. We can guess that the less affluent also found their way to the temple in Ming times, although the difficulty of the journey may have discouraged regular visits by large numbers of ordinary people.
Thus, by the end of the Ming, we find that Tanzhesi, already a thousand years old, was a visible self-sustaining monastic community aware of its past, the recipient of regular patronage from the court and from capital elites. It was, however, only one of a great many temples within reach of Peking; a few of these attracted many more visitors, pilgrims, and patrons, but most were comparatively ordinary and undistinguished.
Under the new dynasty, different kinds of patrons. Tanzhesi in the Qing. A number of important changes in local society accompanied the founding of the Qing in Under Manchu leadership, several hundred thousand bannermen arrived from the Northeast, dislocating Peking life and forcing painful adjustments. Ming court society was swept away, and active emperors with a variety of religious interests supplanted eunuchs as patrons of religion.
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Within a few generations, banner people had redefined themselves as the local elites of the capital and joined Peking's short- and long-term sojourners in amplifying Peking's scenic sites. Fortunately for Tanzhesi, its older reputation encouraged continued imperial and popular patronage. The site itself was much improved as a result of the interest taken by the Qing throne.
In the summer of ,32 the Kangxi emperor made an excursion to the monastery, and enjoyed its shade, its spring water, and its jade-green bamboo grove. In , when a fire destroyed the main hall, he allocated ten thousand ounces of silver a substantial sum and began a major restoration of the central portion of the complex. The main hall was entirely rebuilt, white marble brought in for its veranda and rails, and newly gilded images installed; other buildings were enlarged or constructed de novo.
Between and the emperor donated sutras, incense burners and ritual utensils, a stone image of Guanyin, eighteen gilded Lohan images to adorn one hall, flowers and bamboo to be planted in another courtyard, more than screens, and a gold bell. The empress dowager gave money to the temple monks every year from to Besides the massive, protracted, and expensive rebuilding, Kangxi had inscribed the monastery in a variety of noticeable ways.
Haifa dozen new name plaques were placed in the restored halls, auspicious phrases inscribed on the front archway, couplets displayed in the halls, and a copy donated of the emperor's poem about his visit. Some gifts spoke to the beauties of the site a plaque reading "Fragrant Forest, Quiet Earth" ; others reflected ostentatious piety a copy of the "Diamond Sutra" in the imperial hand, huge dragon banners of imperial yellow.
Moreover, a substantial set of rooms — a "travelling palace" — was built and kept ready for visits by the empress dowager, emperor, and his concubines, testimony to the continuing. One hundred Tibetan Buddhist images were also donated, introducing a Tantric enclave into the Tanzhesi. Chinese and Manchu banner people supported Tantric rites at the Lengyan altar in , , and , and the stele used both Chinese characters and Manchu script to enumerate the names of donors. Imperial visits, surely made with considerable fanfare, called attention to the presence and powers of this temple, informing the banner community and reminding Chinese residents of the capital.
Kangxi preserved poems about the visits in his collected works, and so did scholar- official members of his entourage, Gao Shiqi, for example, and the aging minister Zhang Ying. Gao' s notes to the linked verse that he composed with the emperor while riding to the temple also commented on the many people who contrary to the usual procedure were allowed to line the roads and watch their procession. The first was compiled for the Guangjisi Monastery of Great Assistance , a Ming dynasty Buddhist monastery that still stands inside the capital just west of the Forbidden City. Largely completed in , Guangjisi's three- juan history was finally published after an imperial visit in In they published their own gazetteer in six parts, about half the length of the Guangjisi one.
The structure of the gazetteer itself conveyed a certain image of the monastery. Some of the material in this gazetteer would have been familiar to readers of the Ming sources discussed above, but much was new. Long lists of the buildings, with precise details about their present dimensions "The Tianwangdian has 3 rooms, is 37 feet tall, 34 feet deep, and 50 feet wide. Information about monks was presented in transcribed stupa epitaphs from early periods pp. These short biographies were part of a well established literary and religious genre within which this temple's clerics were now established.
The short account of the monk Zhian, for example, told his native place Peking and original name, where and when he became a monk, when he came first to Tanzhesi in , when he took over as chief cleric , by imperial appointment , and when he died It also told how he was invited to Kangxi's suburban villa in to deal with captive tigers in a kind of imperial zoo that had become so fierce that none dared approach them. Zhian preached to them, "Because you had violent natures, you have been reborn as tigers.
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If you do not change now, what will happen to you in the next life? Under the next abbot, we are told, the Mongol-style pagoda housing relics, a building that the monks circumambulated chanting sutras, became the site of fresh miracles. In the s, it began to emit flashes of light seemingly once a year , astonishing the devout and inducing the dubious to piety.
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The monk authors emphasized imperial patrons but downplayed connections with Ming eunuch benefactors. The actions of Wang Zhen and Dai Yi were mentioned without detail in the gazetteer; instead the point was stressed that, unlike many Ming temples that were built to accompany a eunuch grave, "Only Tanzhe was not established. The even greater attention given in the gazetteer to the sights of the temple and to the temple as a local sight suggests the considerable importance of this dimension to the monks as well as to their real and imagined patrons.
Poems and prose accounts by visitors, common modes of remembering the experiences of leisured touring, were reproduced at length. Such excursions, "strolling S" as it was called, meant respite from work in the city, a diversion, and a chance to commune with like-minded men from the past by reenacting their experiences.
Eight poems from the Dijing were reprinted pp. The poem titles evoke the occasions more precisely than the verse itself: "Again strolling to Tanzhesi," "Going from Jietan in the fog, crossing Luohou Pass, and as it cleared, reaching Tanzhe," "An excursion to Tanzhe on a summer's day," "Purifying the heart at Tanzhe's evening meditation," "Linked couplets from a stroll to Tanzhe.
In addition to the poems, the temple's sights were described in prose accounts. The reader was given a list of what to see or imagine pp. Then the editors noted places in the vicinity of the monastery that one might visit pp. Finally, a list was given of Tanzhe's "ten vistas.
The vistas described the natural setting or the buildings in it, not the religious character of the site.
Indeed, in all of these "sights," religious and secular were fused, blurring any dis-. By the Tanzhe temple had found a place among the sights of Peking, and the editors of the monastic gazetteer took considerable pride in this fact. Information from the gazetteer and from the earlier sources on which it drew did not remain only book learning.
For example, in a stele erected to commemorate the building of a lotus pond in , the educated author recapitulated briefly the earlier names of the temple, the proverb, the story of the dragon, and its recent rebuilding; he mentioned the tame snakes, Miaoyan's brick, Empress Dowager Li's patronage, and Zibo's text. All this information, although still written in classical Chinese, was — through the stele — put on permanent public display.
The physical revival of the monastery in the s seems to have sparked more than literati interest in Tanzhe, and from the first decade of the s, lay pilgrims begin to make their mark on the site. Their patronage added another layer of and conduit for information at and about the temple.
In unspecified "devotees" fgdr built the lotus pond, donated sutras, and added land to the temple's endowment. Such organizations had existed in Peking since at least the Ming, and were now being created with regularity and enthusiasm by both Chinese and Manchu residents of the capital.