Temple of Sūn Sī Miǎo 孙思邈的观

By 荣真 Róng zhēn

The Temple of Sūn Sī Miǎo 孙思邈 is found near the city of Xī’ān西安, in the Shǎnxī shěng陕西省 Province, in the city of Tóng chuān Shì 铜川市.  The temple celebrates the day of Yào Wáng 药王, every year on the 28th day of the fourth moon (lunar calendar).

The temple of 药王 Yào Wáng is considered an historic landmark that enjoys spectacular views, it is found on the mountain named Wǔ tái shān 五台山.

Sūn Sī Miǎo孙思邈 was born on the year 1581 A.C., it is said he lived for 142 years.  He is the creator of the “ethics of medicine” of traditional chinese medicine.  After his death, he was given the title of King of Medicine or God of Medicine 药王 Yào Wáng.  He lived in isolation in the mountain of Wǔ tái shān 五台山, where he built himself a temple and a statue.  This place became known more and more as the mountain of Yào Wáng 药王, it is recognised as a famous sanctuary of traditional chinese medicine where more than 100 ancient monuments exist; in their majority, they are associated to Sūn Sī Miǎo孙思邈.

The mountain of Yào Wáng 药王 has an altitude of 812 metres above sea level and has many relics associated to the traditional culture, particularly relating to the trilogy: Confucianist, Buddhist, and Daoist.  The construction of the temple began during the Táng Dynasty (618 – 907), afterward during the Yuán (1206-1368), Míng (1368-1644) and Qīng (1644-1911) dynasties, it was rebuilt in many occasions in accordance to the philosophy of Sūn Sī Miǎo 孙思邈.  This mountain is considered a national heritage as well as a cultural one, it is composed of two peaks separated by a valley.



There is a special hall, in the central zone, that has a statue of Sūn Sī Miǎo 孙思邈 with a height of three metres, with a long beard and lounge clothes.  On each side one can see a couple of lions protecting the room and the entrance to the cave that connects to the centre of the mountain, named “the cave of the King of Medicine”.  In this special place, sculpted statues and drawings are observed.  There is a Buda that aids in healing. When his head is touched it is said he helps in healing headaches, whereas when his feet are touched, he helps in healing feet aches.  It is also a space where one can observe more statues of different doctors.


At the entrance of the temple, to the left, there is a special room where statues from the Míng Dynasty, are kept; they represent famous doctors as are 张仲景 Zhāng zhòng jǐng, Huá tuó 华佗, and other 10 statues of ancient doctors.  To the right lies the room of Sūn Sī Miǎo 孙思邈, with a monument to his medical ethics.


On a different part of the mountain one can find different pagodas of ancient architecture that fall in a waterfall formation.  On the right side of the mountain of 药王 Yào Wáng, to the East, there is a long hallway with a variety of ancient stones.  The stelae have very ancient inscriptions regarding different themes which points to the cultural diversity of the place.

A long stone bridge leads to the northern part of the mountain to reach a cave.  It is said that Sūn Sī Miǎo 孙思邈 experimented with plants.  This is the place where he laid them out to dry and he described their various effects on the ancient stelae.



To the south of the hill shaped as a bronze crown, towards the southern end of the temple, one crosses through a building that holds a connection with Heaven, and one reaches the wing of 魁星 Kuíxīng (also called 奎星Kuí xīng  or Great Master Kui, 魁星 Dà kuíxīng jūn “Great Kui, the Prince of the Star”, he is a character in chinese culture, the God of Examinations, an associate or agent of the God of Literature, 文昌 Wénchāng.  The name Kuíxīng 魁星 literally means “Chief of the Star(s)” and was a reference to the ancient “spoon” of the Big Dipper.

The mountain of Yào Wáng 药王 is a place where many doctors of the Suí (581-618) and Táng (618 – 907) dynasties, came to practise and to retire as hermits.  Because Sūn Sī Miǎo 孙思邈 came to retire to this place, his incredible labour is commemorated by having dedicated this place in his name.


The mountain of Yào Wáng 药王 is an area of nature of more than 2000 acres.  The mountain is composed in its main part of natural forest, the trees and plants being endemic of the central region of the province of Shǎnxī shěng 陕西省. The vegetation of this park has increased over time, since many other varieties have come to be introduced.  There are different types of floral communities all along the the hill in the wild.  There are 164 sections of 229 types of herbs, the weather is mild, in the Winter being very cold, while in the Summer there is hardly any heat.  Here, a special example of the chinese medical culture is found.  There is also a grand culture in the art of stone sculpting.