PTTP Ch. 2.1: The Middle Finger

Translator: Dj22031

Editor: Dj22031

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Xie Lingya spent two days inventorying the things in Baoyang Temple, and also found a plaque in the utility room. This was the original plaque of Baoyang Temple and had a history of hundreds of years.

When Jingui Pedestrian Street was renovated, the facades of the entire street were uniformly decorated. Baoyang Temple was actually located outside the purview of the pedestrian street, but at that time, probably because they were close to each other, it was changed together for the sake of neatness. Anyway, the exterior walls were always overturned again and again.

Besides, the entire Baoyang Temple, with a total area of less than one acre, was just a miniature Taoist temple. The whole building was a small building with a brick and wood structure. There was a circle of bamboo planted against the wall in the front yard, and there was an old gossip-shaped well in the corner.

Then there was the Sanqing Hall, the main hall, which was also the largest building in Baoyang Temple. The Sanqing[1] was enshrined inside, with the Jade Emperor[2] on the back, and Taiyi Tianzun[3] in the east and west rooms.

After passing the Sanqing Hall and entering the backyard, a circle of buildings, except for the two auxiliary halls Lingguan Hall and Wenchang Hall, were used for residences, kitchens and other daily uses. Such living rooms had been renovated with cement.

A small piece of land was opened in the courtyard. It used to have some fruits and vegetables growing in it, but it was now abandoned. There were also inscriptions left over from the old days, which were hundreds of years old.

The Taoist temple as a whole had a very typical Taoist temple architectural style. It faced north and south, with a symmetrical layout and a courtyard pattern. However, everything from beams, columns to tiles were extremely old or even damaged and had not been repaired for a long time.

According to previous records, the Taoist temple which was built in the Ming Dynasty, was destroyed, and was rebuilt in the late Qing Dynasty.

Xie Lingya still remembered that his uncle told him when he was a child that when Baoyang Temple was at its peak, there were several entrance halls along the central axis. The main hall originally housed the statues of spiritual officials, the statues of the Sanqing or Three Pure Ones were in the back hall, and there were several side halls. Later, it was damaged over the years, leaving only one main hall and two auxiliary halls. The statues of Sanqing were moved to the main hall, and the statues of minor deities were relegated to the auxiliary halls.

Xie Lingya took photos one by one and ran to the Municipal Cultural Bureau. His uncle didn’t care about these things. But he thought that there were some old things and history in the temple, so he went to inquire about them.

After asking, Xie Lingya found out that Baoyang Temple had already been registered.

In the past two years, the city had begun to pay more attention to the protection of cultural relics and historic sites. Someone from the Cultural Affairs Bureau went to Baoyang Temple to inspect and appraise it. However, the only Taoist priest Wang Yuji sometimes disappeared, so they had only registered it.

As soon as Xie Lingya showed up, they also said that they would issue a nameplate to Baoyang Temple. It would be uniformly made and its name would be included in the city’s historical sites and cultural relics. Xie Lingya happily accepted it and asked shamelessly if there were any protection funds he could apply for in this area.

Unfortunately, they did have special funds, but the amount was limited. Baoyang Temple was neither the oldest nor the worst. So they didn’t know when it would be his turn.

The staff at the reception felt good about Xie Lingya because he was good-looking and always smiling, so he told him that the bureau was compiling a book about local places of interest, historical sites, cultural relics and legends. If Baoyang Temple was interested, he could send the information to them.


Xie Lingya took notice of this and started flipping through his notes when he got back.

Not only did it cost money to repair a Taoist temple, but an empty Taoist temple also had difficulty recruiting disciples and thus would fall into a vicious cycle. He had to recruit some tourists and pilgrims first. It may be difficult in the early stage, but it was necessary.

Wang Yuji had never thought about commercializing the Taoist temple, or he simply didn’t know how. Xie Lingya thought, let’s start by perfecting the legends and stories of this Taoist temple.

The notes written by people in front of Baoyang Temple contained a lot of content, and there were also footnotes added from generation to generation. At most, more than half of a page of notes is filled with annotations. The story materials Xie Lingya was looking for were all scattered in his notes. He flipped through several books and saw his previous graffiti.

Xie Lingya didn’t like studying before, but he always wanted to peek at Wang Yuji’s notes.

The art of fortune-telling was indeed somewhat miraculous. Xie Lingya didn’t know what happened to those people who had so-called star bones in the past. Anyway, when he was uneducated and incompetent, he wasn’t something exaggerated like “sixteen steps to become an immortal”, but his understanding was indeed special.

The contents of these pages he turned over were still fresh in his memory.

After searching for a long time and reviewing old things and learning new things, Xie Lingya finally found some usable materials.

There were many ways to name Taoist temples, including the names of gods, legends, place names, Taoist cultural terms, etc.

As a result, he found the notes of Wang Yuji, a master of the Yuan Dynasty, and found out that Baoyang Temple was originally called “Baoyang Temple” because there used to be a lot of sheep raised in the temple. Later, for some reason, it gradually became “Baoyang Temple”.

“This is too unqualified.” Xie Lingya sweated and simply skipped this part. With a stroke of his pen, based on part of the notes of his predecessors, he exaggeratedly fabricated a legend about Baoyang Temple, in which various gods descended to earth and goblins fought on this land.

After finishing writing, Xie Lingya still had some unfinished thoughts. It was not that he was exaggerating. When he was at the Cultural Bureau, he read the materials compiled by others. Good guys, all of them had even gone as far as to fabricate legends about Nuwa[4] and Huangdi[5], and the simplest one was also related to Qianlong[6].

In Taoist temples, the highest deity Sanqing must be enshrined. In addition, there was usually a main deity enshrined. This depended on the beliefs of the local people or the Taoist priests in the temple. For example, some Taoist temples are dedicated to Emperor Zhenwu[7], some to Lu Dongbin[8], the God of Wealth[9], Wenquxing[10], etc.

The main god worshiped by Baoyang Temple was Wang Lingguan[11], who was the deity of the Lingguan Hall statue in the side hall and was regarded as the ancestor by Baoyang Temple.

Wang Lingguan was the Taoist divine general who protected the mountain. He specialized in guarding the Taoist mountain gate. Therefore, basically the first hall after entering a Taoist temple, the mountain gate hall, would always have a statue of Lingguan, who guarded and protected the mountain gate.

Xie Lingya roughly made up a story about the appearance of Wang Lingguan, explaining how a certain temple master at Baoyang Temple subdued demons and saved the people of Qiyang. He sent this rough story to the people in the Cultural Affairs Bureau, and the other party sent a few thumbs up emoticons. So, he guessed they got the essence.


Compared to the outside world, the environment of Baoyang Temple was very quiet and simple, but it was not isolated after all.

Behind Baoyang Temple was a vegetable market. Business started early in the morning, and the pedestrian street was also bustling with people during the day. In the evening, adults and aunts gathered in Dawn Square in several groups, and the music was loud.

Xie Lingya read a book in this environment all day long. The more he read, the more he felt that it would be amazing if they could get any believers in this environment…

He hadn’t yet figured out how to get funds. For the time being, he spent half of his time reading his own professional books and the other half of his time translating the notes of his predecessors into electronic versions, which had improved his typing speed.

Because the sound of the square dance accompaniment at night was too loud and his Taoist temple faced the square so Xie Lingya wore headphones and read a book. Xie Lingya fell asleep while reading. He woke up with a dry mouth and didn’t know what time it was. As soon as he took off his earphones, he heard a faint knock on the door.

Xie Lingya had just woken up and was stunned for a while. Then he realized that there was a corner door in the backyard that led to the vegetable market at the back. Hearing this sound, it seemed that someone was knocking on the back door.

Xie Lingya turned on his cell phone and looked at the time. It was two ten minutes past midnight. Who would knock on the door at this hour?

The knocking on the door was chaotic and urgent. There were shops all around, and Xie Lingya was probably the only one who was disturbed. Xie Lingya had always been bolder. He grabbed his cell phone, put on his slippers and walked out. He also grabbed a rolling pin.

There was a moon and no stars tonight, and the moonlight shone quietly on the world. Xie Lingya opened the back door halfway without even asking who was outside. He suddenly asked the person who knocked on the door: “What are you doing?”

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[1] San Qing, also known as Three Pure Ones (Taoist Trinity) refers to three supreme Gods respected by Taoism, including Celestial Worthy of Primordial Beginning, Celestial Worthy of Numinous Treasure and Celestial Worthy of the Tao and its Power.

[2] The Jade Emperor (Yuhuang or Yudi) was considered to be the ruler of Heaven. He was thought to be like a human emperor, in that he ruled over a heavenly court populated by all the important gods of China.

[3] In orthodox Taoism, he is the deity of salvation for all sentient beings in the 10 directions, with a different incarnation for each direction, and can transform into other incarnations for any purpose.

[4] Nüwa, also read Nügua, is a mother goddess, culture hero, and/or member of the Three Sovereigns of Chinese mythology. She is a god in Chinese folk religion and Taoism. She is credited with creating humanity and repairing the Pillar of Heaven. 

[5] The Yellow Emperor, also known as the Yellow Thearch or by his Chinese name Huangdi, is either an individual deity in Chinese religion, one of the legendary Chinese sovereigns and cultural heroes included among the mytho-historical Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors, or a part of the Five Regions’ Highest Deities. 

[6] The Qianlong Emperor also known by his temple name Emperor Gaozong of Qing, personal name Hongli, was the fifth emperor of the Qing and the fourth Qing emperor to rule over China proper.

[7] Emperor Zhenwu is one of the most influential gods in Taoism. InChina, the number of temples built for him is the largest among various kinds of temples. In Taoism, there are different sayings about the derivation of Emperor Zhenwu. Some think that he came from the god of heaven and earth; some think he came from the god of water, and some people think he practiced austerities to be a god from a human being. In fact, this god is the result evolved from ancient Chinese worship for the stars and animals.

[8] Lu Dongbin, in Chinese religion, is one of the Baxian, the Eight Immortals of Daoism, who discoursed in his Stork Peak refuge on the three categories of merit and the five grades of genies (spirits). He is depicted in art as a man of letters carrying a magic sword and a fly switch.

[9] Caishen, also called Cai Boxing Jun, in Chinese religion, the popular god (or gods) of wealth, widely believed to bestow on his devotees the riches carried about by his attendants.

[10] Bao Zheng was a Chinese politician during the reign of Emperor Renzong in China’s Song Dynasty. During his twenty-five years in civil service, Bao was known for his honesty and uprightness, with actions such as impeaching an uncle of Emperor Renzong’s favourite concubine and punishing powerful families. During his years in office, he gained the honorific title Justice due to his ability to defend peasants and commoners against corruption or injustice. Bao Zheng is depicted as the incarnation of the Astral God of Civil Arts (Wenquxing).

[11] Lord Wang is a ubiquitous god in late imperial and modern Chinese society, worshipped in different contexts, including temple processions, exorcistic rituals, monastic ordinations, and elite spirit-writing cults.

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