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Anguo City, or Qizhou in ancient times, is one of the famous traditional Chinese medicinal materials distribution centers in China’s history, enjoying the titles of “Medicine City” and “World No.1 Medicine Market”. The prosperity of Anguo medicine market came from the Temple of Herbal King, so people who go to medicine market always revere and visit the Temple of Herbal King.  Temple of Herbal King, located at south of Anguo City (Nanguan in the past), is China’s largest ancient architectural complex for commemorating medical sages in all ages. Initially established in the period of Taiping Xingguo Period, Northern Song Dynasty, the Temple with over 1000 years history has been the important heritage site under state protection.  Pi Tong, the Herbal King sacrificed in the Temple and born in Xindu of Western Han Dynasty (now, Jizhou of Hebei Province), was one of 28 old campaigners of Liu Xiu, the first emperor of Eastern Han Dynasty. He was once the prefecture chief of Quyang (now, Jinzhou City, Hebei Province) , also assisted Liu Xiu to seize state powers and had made great contribution to the establishment and defense of Eastern Han Dynasty as he was intrepid and gallant, loyal and devoted and resourceful. He even had taken the high position, Taichang Shaofu (equal to prime minister). He was fond of medical science and was loved and supported by soldiers and civilians. After he died, he was buried outside South Gate of Qizhou.   There is a myths tale about the origin of Anguo Temple of Herbal King that Qinwang of Song Dynasty suffered stubborn disease, then Pi Tong, who was dead already, showed his power and cured Qinwang completely; learning about Pi Tong came from South Gate of Qizhou, Qinwang dispatched vassals to that place and got that Qi Tong was a deity, so he conferred the title of “Herbal King” upon Qi Tong and built a temple for him. Then, in the first year of Jianzhong Jingguo of Northern Song Dynasty (year of 1101), Pi Tong was bestowed posthumously as Marquis and later Duke; in the 6th year of Xianchun Period of Southern Song Dynasty (year of 1270), Pi Tong was granted the title of "Psychic and kind Xianwang". The emperors kept granting titles upon Pi Tong continuously, thus the Herbal King was more and more influential. The establishment of Temple of Herbal King reflected the yearning of later generation toward Pi Tong, who was always kind to the civilians. Since establishment, the vulgar always sought helps from the Herbal King when suffering illness, devout men and women always offered incense there, so medicines manufacturer seized the opportunity to sell medicines, then medicinal materials temple fair on every lunar April 28th was formed gradually, which has lasted for hundreds of years. So, there is a saying that "Grass could be utilized as medicines in Anguo City, medicine fair came from the Temple of Herbal King".  In the second year of Yongle Period of Ming Dynasty (the year of 1404), the Temple of Herbal King was expanded centering Pi Tong Tomb after the pattern of the temple of herbal king in Lin'an (now, Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province) in Song Dynasty. With two repairs in Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty respectively, the temple grew to the current scale. The architectural complex of the Temple with floor area of over 3200 square meters are orientated east and west in complete structure, comprising of memorial arch, horse palace, bell tower, pavilion of Herbal King Tomb, stele room, top 10 famous doctors pavilions, main hall and back hall of Herbal King pavilion, etc  The horizontal inscribed board "Temple of Herbal King" hung on the gate to mountain was inscribed by Liu Yong, the Scholar of East Court in Qianlong Period of Qing Dynasty. Memorial arches outside the gate to mountain are the buildings with multiple-eave hip roofs, whose three tetrastyle rooms are covered by glazed facing tiles and corbel arches are enameled. The inscribed board right in the middle writes “Epiphany Hebei” outlined in gold. There is a pair of stone lions beside memorial arches. Then two iron-casted flag posts (each is 24 meters in high and 30,000 catty in weight) stand erect near by the stone lions, a couplet engraved on which show “The two iron flag posts are irradiating, the celestial is kind and blessing everyone”. The wind-bells hung on the flag posts ring in the wind, which is remote and solemn.   The pavilion of Herbal King Tomb is located at the middle yard of Temple of Herbal King. The tomb, with exquisite and unique appearance, is in pavilion pattern with wooden beading and glazed facing tile roofs, enjoying national characteristics, of which the tombstone writes “The tomb of psychic and kind Xianwang conferred by emperor”. There are several dozens of steles along the south and north corridors as well as west walls, recording the development history of Temple of Herbal King and the medicine city.   The statues of top 10 famous ancient doctors are standing in the side halls at the north and south of the Temple of Herbal King, including Bian Que, Hua Tuo, Zhang Zhongjing, Zhang Zihe, Liu Hejian, etc., which combine form and spirit and enjoy exquisite workmanship. It is said such statues were made by Zhang Yuanzu, the famous clay figurine maker in Tianjin.   Herbal King main hall is the main hall of the whole Temple of Herbal King. There is a full-length seated statue of Herbal King in dragon robe at the right middle of the main hall, which is in fine fettle, modest and kind. On the two sides of the Herbal King, there are 8 majestic and spirited military officers, which make the main hall grand and majestical. The main hall covered by glazed facing tiles is princely with skillful chasing.   Anguo medicine market sprung from the Temple of Herbal King, the latter enjoys a widespread reputation just because of the former. In 1981, China’s medicine delegation visited the temple of herbal king in Osaka, Japan. Unexpectedly, the first words of the female narrator there were that”the Herbal King of Japan came from Qizhou, China”. The Temple of Herbal King enjoys three national bests: firstly, the national largest architectural complex of Temple of Herbal King; secondly, it is unique that the tomb of Herbal King is located at the temple yard; thirdly, there are two iron-casted flag posts (each is 24 meter in high and 15 tons in weight) in the plaza outside the temple, with two pelycosaurs on the tops; a couplet casted in the flag posts writes that “The two iron flag posts are irradiating, the celestial is kind and blessing everyone”; that is very unique. The old architecture was destroyed in war years and “Cultural Revolution” period. Since 1958, a large and complete repair to the Temple of Herbal King was carried out, which gave the temple an entirely new look. After establishment of the Temple, as devout men and women burnt incense and prayed there, the Temple became prosperous. Then, Anguo Temple Fair was developed and formed gradually and grew into the largest medicine market in northern China finally as businessmen coming from the whole country gathered there and transacted there. For that reason, it is said Anguo medicine industry sprung from Temple of Herbal King. Now, the Temple has been the key cultural relics under State’s protection. 【more】
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