Prince Slope Architectural Complex
The Prince Slope Architectural Complex was meticulously designed in accordance with the legend of the god of Zhenwu, the prince of Jingle Kingdom, who wanted to ascend to heaven. According to the legend, Zhenwu ran away from his kingdom to Wudang Mountain when he was 15 years old. He wished to learn Taoism and become an immortal. So this is one of the places where Zhenwu was refining himself, according to Taoist doctrine. The buildings here were put up in 1412 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the temple here was destroyed three times in fire and rebuilt three times.
Four Gates Within One Mile
The entrance of Prince Slope (Photo by Yang Guangzhi)
At the entrance of Prince Slope, there is a carved tile with the regular script Chinese characters "Tai Zi Po", written by Mu Xin, Emperor Yongle's son-in-law during the Ming Dynasty. This is the first of the four famous gates within one mile. At Prince Slope, one can see four gates. Most Chinese people today will go through four periods of education: primary school, junior high school, senior high school and university. It's also "four gates". It remains unclear whether it is a coincidence or a profound theory preserved in Wudang Mountain’s ancient buildings?
Pond of Tears
A winding passage (Photo by Lu Jialiang)
Visitors have to walk along a winding passage leading to the temple to reach the Pond of Tears. From the entrance to the temple is only 71 meters straight-line distance. But when the ancients built it, the distribution complied with a mountain-shaped arc wall that made the journey a zigzag one. In the courtyard is the Pond of Tears. According to legend, after Zhenwu left home, his mother, the queen of Jingle Kingdom, missed her son so much that she wept and wailed every day. Her tears filled what became the pond.
Scripture Hall is where Zhenwu studied Taoist scriptures. The prince had studied diligently for 42 years, and finally he became a master of Taoism. It is believed that children who kowtow to the God of Zhenwu will become intelligent.
A well-known building in Prince Temple is the Five-Story Tower. It is the tallest building on Wudang Mountain. The most specific structure of the building is on the fifth floor. On one column there are 12 beams piled and intersected one upon another, connected with a gable and hip roof and bracket. In this way, the weight of the roof is distributed evenly and more materials and floor space are saved. It’s really a wonder in the history of Chinese architecture and it is praised by many famous architects.
The prince did not study Taoism without any setbacks. Once he was disheartened after several years of learning when he met the God of the Purple Primordial Sovereign who disguised himself as an old woman. The old woman was grinding an iron rod. Zhenwu asked the old woman why she was grinding the iron rod. “Perseverance spell spells success. If you work at it hard enough, you can grind an iron rod into a needle,” she told him. Zhenwu realized that he should not give up his belief of Taoism halfway and must go on practicing Taoism and living an austere life. According to this legend, the Needle-Grinding Well was built in the Yongle regime of the Ming Dynasty and was renovated in the Kangxi Regime of the Qing Dynasty.