Culture of Religious
Culture of Religious
Religion is a special cultural phenomenon, which emerged in a certain historical period in the development of human society, and is one of social ideologies. In terms of the belief cognition and ceremony activities derived relevant to it, it can also be called a faith or belief.
The religious cultures in ancient China are mainly Buddhism culture and Taoism culture. In Chinese religious cultures, Shanxi is noted for being the key bases of the development of Buddhism culture and Taoism culture.
Shanxi province is one of the first places which introduced the Buddhism. As early as in Yongping period of Donghan Dynasty, Kāśyapamātanga and Dharmaratna went to Mount Wutai and built the Temple of the Temple of Da Fulingjiu, which is the origin of the Buddhism culture in Shanxi province.In late Xijin Dynasty, the governments established by the minorities in the north supported Buddhism. The king of Post-Zhao Dynasty Shile honored the Buddha Cinga as “Big Monk” and established a lot of Buddhism temples in Shanxi Province.Later, Wencheng King and Xiaowen King of Beiwei Dynasty invested a lot in building Buddhism temples and carves in many places of Shanxi province such as Datong and Yungang. In Beiqi Dynasty, so many temples were built that nearly all the temples along the West Mountain in Taiyuan were established during this time, among which Tianlongshan Grottos are the best embodiment of the exquisite carving art of that time. Tang Dynasty is the most thriving period of the Buddhism temples. As the birthplace of the royalty of Tang Dynasty and the homeland of the female king Wu Zetian, Shanxi was appreciated a lot by the central government and only on Mount Wutai, were there more than 360 temples with thousands of monks and nuns. The well-preserved picture of Mount Wutai carved on the stone of Dunhuang Grottos is a typical description of the prosperity of the temples on Mount Wutai in Tang Dynasty. Yuan Dynasty is the key period for the integration of Buddhism culture in Shanxi province. The central government of Yuan Dynasty implemented the system of mutual existence of politics and religion, and it is during this period that Lamaism was introduced into Shanxi province. Kubla Khan, the king of Yuan Dynasty, ordered the emperor’s teacher Danba to host the temple of Mount Wutai in the period of Zhongtong, and since then Mount Wutai has become the only holy cultural place with Lamaism and Han Buddhism. The Buddhism events held on Mount Wutai reached the peak during Ming and Qing Dynasties due to the strong promotion of the emperors in these two dynasties. Only during the two terms of the emperors Kangxi and Qianlong in Qing Dynasty, such Buddhism events on Mount Wutai were held as many as 11 times. For hundreds of years, Mount Wutai has been playing a very significant role in defending the unification of the Chinese people and promoting the international cultural exchange and the world peace.
In history of Shanxi province, many great monks contributed much to the culture of Shanxi or even China. In Dongjin Dynasty, the great monk Faxian born in Shanxi devoted all his lifetime to the pursuit of the truth with the stoic, unwavering and sacrificing spirit. He was honored as the spine of China by Luxun, a famous writer in China. The following people show high respect to him and regard him as the pioneer to pursue the truth in the west. Another great monk Huiyuan at that time advocated Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha Dharma. Then another great monk Tanluanhong , who spread the principles of Pure Land Buddhism, created Pure Land Buddhism and recruited many great monks in the Bingzhou Big Temple(Mengshan now) of Taiyuan, Xuanzhong Temple of Jiaocheng, and Luangong Rock of Mianshan. These great monks contributed themselves to Pure Land of Buddhism and established the status of Xuanzhong Temple as the origin of Pure Land of Buddhism. Not only has Shanxi contributed much to spreading and developing Buddhism, but also it is one of the places with abundant Buddhism cultural relics.Shanxi occupies a very significant status in the Buddhism culture of China, which can be indicated by those Buddhism buildings and artistic works as follows: the first holy place of Buddhism Mount Wutai; Yungang Grottos with splendid murals; Xuankong Temple with a combination of Buddhsim, Taoism and Confucianism; the existent oldest wooden architecture Buddha Hall of Nanchan Temple; Foguang Temple reflecting the architectural styles after Beiwei Dynasty; the existent tallest wooden tower in Ying County; the oriental Venus Huanyan Temple; Shuanlin Temple in Pingyao city which is also the artistic museum of painted sculptures of Ming Dynasty; Xuanzhong Temple,one of the birthplaces of Pure Land Buddhism; Mimo Temple, which is said to be the hidden place of 500 Chinese dragons; Faxing Temple combined the styles of a tower and a hall; the great monk Faxian’s house God’s Court；Miaoxiang Temple with two pagodas; Jinzang of Zhao in Guangsheng Temple; the murals of Jin Dynasty in Yanshan Temple and the murals of Yuan Dynasty in Qinglong Temple.
Taoism is a special religion which started in China with 1800 years history. No accurate records about when it emerged in Shanxi province, but until Donghan Dynasty, it had been formed and Taoism temples had been established in some places. In Beiwei Dynasty, Shanxi was the foundation and center of the north Tiaoshi Taoism’s activities and the Taoism culture of Shanxi entered the first peak period in history. The king of Sui Dynasty was not so into Taoism and the King Yang of Sui Dynasty had forbidden Taoism and even the books about Taoism were burnt at that time. In Tang Dynasty, Taoism of Shanxi went into another thriving period in history. In Beisong Dynasty, the Taoism temples were very popular and the Taoists were increasing constantly. In Yuan Dynasty, Longshan Grottos which were the biggest well-preserved grottos in China, and Yongle Palace with precious murals of Yuan Dynasty in Ruicheng which is a group of Taoism palace-style buildings were established in Shanxi. The king of Ming Dynasty imposed very severe restrictions on Taoism and Taoists. In late Ming Dynasty and early Qing Dynasty, Taoism temples could be seen nearly all over Shanxi province. However, all the branches of Taoism didn’t develop further because of the policy of supporting Buddhism and forbidding Taoism. In late Qing Dynasty, the underdeveloped Taoism degraded more. However, during the ups and downs of Taoism in history, there were still many famous Taoists such as Kou Qianzhi, Lv Dongbin and Song Defang.
Islam is one of the international religions. According to the inscriptions on the tablets in the ancient mosques, in Zhenyuan period of Tang Dynasty, some Muslims came to Tangming Town. In Beisong Dynasty, the merchants from Dashi Country came to do business and settled in Shanxi province. In the 13th century, many Muslims in the Mongolia army settled in Shanxi. By Yongle Period of Ming Dynasty, many Muslims had immigrated to Taiyuan from Shannxi, Gansu and Ningxia. Then Islam developed very quickly there.Muslims who immigrated into Shanxi in different times scattered all over Shanxi province and gathered in some places. Muslims in Shanxi province are mainly Hui minority. Nanshi Street and Nanhai Street in Taiyuan and Sandaoying in Changzhi are all famous communities of Hui minority. There are 106 mosques in Shanxi province. Among those mosques, the big Muslim Mosque in Jiulou of Datong, the ancient Muslim Mosque in Taiyuan, the North Muslim Mosque and South Muslim Mosque in Changzhi, which were established in Yuan and Ming Dynasty, are very famous. Qingheyuan, Dumpling Restaurant, Yilanzhai in Datong, Yixiangzhai in Changzhi, Yuesheng Restaurant and Fangxinzhai in Jincheng are all very well-known traditional Muslim restaurants in Shanxi province.
Christian was the first foreign religion that was introduced to China, and it became influential in late Ming Dynasty and early Qing Dynasty. At that time, Italians were the first foreigners who came to preach in Shanxi province. In Qing Dynasty, the spread of Christian was controlled very strictly. The signing of Huangpu Pact eliminated the limitations on religions and the Christians increased a lot. In the Yihetuan Movement, Christian was hit severely in Shanxi province. After the liberation, Christian in China began to establish their religious events independently, but they experienced a lot of difficulties. After the opening and reform, under the policy of allowing the freedom of religious belief, the people in Shanxi who believe in Christian have increased year by year. The most impressive phenomenon is the arising of the rural religious culture and the western Christian and Catholicism develop very fast as well. The Church of Sacred Mother authorized by the pope of Vatican, and the catholic church in Taiyuan religious district with the artistic style of ancient Rome are the unique embodiment of Christian culture in Shanxi province.