City God Temple (15th century onward)
Like the Ancient Greeks, the Chinese traditionally believe that guardian gods watch over their cities. The first temple to the God of Shanghai was founded in the Song Dynasty (960-1279) when a shrine was erected to the City God of Huating County. However, the Huating shrine was located in Danjing Temple, far from its current location. The present site was first used during the reign of Emperor Yongle (1403-1425) in the Ming Dynasty. A statue of General Huo Guang of the Han Dynasty was enshrined in the front hall, while a statue of Qin Yubo, the god of the City, rested in the back hall.
Qin Yubo is a Taoist deity renowned for his character and learning. Legends say that in the early Ming dynasty Qin Yubo was a righteous scholar who, out of disdain for politics, refused to become a court official. Upon his death in 1377, the emperor lamented that he never succeeded in luring the honest official to the central government, which was rife with corruption. The emperor decided to honor him posthumously by bestowing on him the status of Deity. Charged with protecting the land, the spirit of Qin Yubo is thought to be active in Shanghai even today.
The area around the temple has grown into a thriving market, with over 100 stores selling all kinds of traditional products. Most of the store buildings are nearly a century old.
All images copyright 2001 Professor Kerk L. Phillips of Brigham Young University, Utah, USA
Visit Kerk L. Phillips' website at http://temple.pomosa.com/