The Zhunti Temple in Kunming, a cult to a mysterious goddess

The Zhunti Temple in Kunming, a cult to a mysterious goddess

In the center of Kunming there are barely a handful of temples left, but as one moves towards the outskirts one can still find some that for one reason or another, survived the turbulent times of religious repression and continue to function at the service of the believers who inhabit the nearby neighborhoods. Among them, one that stands out for its size, many are no more than an oratory, is the Zhunti Temple, located at the southern end of the charismatic neighborhood of Dashuyin.

Due to the modernization of the city the temple no longer opens onto an alley, as was usual, but its entrance is through what is now a side door, even so it has two courtyards and a total area of 1700 m2 and a pleasant atmosphere in which the old women who take care of it and the slow, very slow dripping of the worshippers stand out.

 The temple was built in 1903, it was formerly called Zhunti Convent, and was dedicated to the cult of Zhunti Guanyin, hence its name. Nowadays it is very difficult to find in the cities temples dedicated especially to this female deity, and in fact this is the first one I visit after so many years in china.

Zhunti goddess

For Buddhists, Zhundi generously oversees all the affairs of life, and she is considered the source of all enlightenment. In works of art she is depicted living in Polaris, the star around which all things revolve, including the destiny of each individual. She has three eyes for wise discernment, eighteen arms holding weapons to protect her people, and a dragon’s head symbolizing her power and wisdom. Each of his eighteen arms represents a particular quality of enlightenment and each of his hands forms a mudra or holds an instrument symbolizing an activity of an enlightened being.

The visit to the temple

Until recently located outside the urban center proper, the peasants preserved its structure quite well. The hall of the Four Heavenly Guardians is perhaps the most deteriorated, as it no longer faces the entrance, a small courtyard with a bridge communicates with the current entrance.  Then appears the Zhunti Hall, with a canonical representation of this goddess, and a colorful set of Ahrats on its side walls, among which suspiciously predominate female faces.

The second courtyard has two auxiliary side rooms, and in front, the Mahavira Hall with three large Buddhas, and on the sides, again, a colorful set of Ahrats. It has also two auxiliary halls, one on the right where Guanyin is venerated, and another on the left with two iconographic programs, the first dedicated to the God of Wealth, as always riding a tiger, and the second, at the back, dedicated to the deities of motherhood, as each of the images worshiped here holds one or more children.

These small halls also show us that today much of the cult arrives somewhat removed from the metaphysical ideals with which Zhunti was once associated, and visit the temple more to give expression to their religious feelings and to ask the Buddhist deities for help in the vicissitudes of life.

Practical:

Schedule: highly variable. Generally from 9:00 to 17:00

Admission: Free.

How to get there: Subway: Dashuyin Station. Line 3.

To cite this post: Ceinos-Arcones, Pedro, "The Zhunti Temple in Kunming, a cult to a mysterious goddess," in Ethnic China, 17 febrero 2021, https://ethnic-china.com/the-zhunti-temple-in-kunming-a-cult-to-a-mysterious-goddess/.

jinuo book

Last posts

Portrait of a Mandarin in 1800

Portrait of a Mandarin in 1800

Portrait of a Mandarin in 1800 This was the year in which a very interesting book was published, which through 60 portraits, tried to show some aspects of life in China to the western public. A book now in the public domain, from which we adapted "A Mandarin of...

The art of laying out gardens among the Chinese

The art of laying out gardens among the Chinese

The art of laying out gardens among the Chinese In the 1740s, William Chambers travelled on three trading voyages to China with the Swedish East India Company. He was the first European to study Chinese architecture methodically. In a book published in 1757, Designs...

The secret treasure of ancient Chinese art

The secret treasure of ancient Chinese art

The secret treasure of ancient Chinese art China has a fabulous artistic treasure hidden from the eyes of the public and specialists. It is her best kept treasure, because given the dispersion of its location, the difficulty of conservation and even evaluation and...

2,000-year-old paintings in a Chinese tomb

2,000-year-old paintings in a Chinese tomb

2,000-year-old paintings in a Chinese tomb It has been more than 10 years since the publication of The complete collection of murals unearthed in China, a dozen or so books describing with abundant full-color photographs the frescoes discovered in Chinese tombs....

Buddhist Monks in Medieval China

Buddhist Monks in Medieval China

Buddhist Monks in Medieval China That is the subject of John Kieschnick's book. The book analyzes the contents of the three collections of biographies of monks that became famous in medieval China, through them he tries to give us first a characterization of the...

Manual of Taoist Architecture

Manual of Taoist Architecture

Manual of Taoist Architecture There are some illustrated books that produce in the reader a contradictory feeling, because the images that explain what the text is about are sometimes accompanied by an exposition of ideas that is too superficial. Therefore the reader...

How the presence of goddesses paves the way for female power

How the presence of goddesses paves the way for female power

How the presence of goddesses paved the way for female power One of the theses of my book Matriarchy in China: mothers, goddesses, queens and shamans (Madrid, 2011) was to assert that the presence of goddesses with prominent roles in a culture could signal the past or...

The Adventures of the Mad Monk Ji Gong

The Adventures of the Mad Monk Ji Gong

The Adventures of the Mad Monk Ji Gong The past few days I have been reading a novel about China's most famous rogue monk. About the Monk Ji Gong, better known for his fondness for wine and meat than for his religious merits. His kindness and continuous desire to help...

12 Chinese idioms related to the tiger

12 Chinese idioms related to the tiger

12 Chinese idioms related to the tiger With the arrival of the Year of the Tiger 2022, here are 12 set phrases (chengyu) related to the tiger, so that those who are getting familiar with the Chinese language can practice one each month. As a wolf, as a tiger 如狼似虎...

Pin It on Pinterest