According to inscribed marble tablets found during restoration, the history of the original Shaxi Pear Orchard Temple dates back over 400 years. Since that period the temple has survived earthquakes, fires and the destruction of the “Smash the Four Olds” of the Cultural Revolution. It has been rebuilt numerous times, most recently in 2012 as a gift from the Barclay family in thanks for the birth of their daughter after praying at the temple’s fertility shrine. Since then, the last major restoration was in 1906. As the shrines throughout the temple were destroyed in the 1970’s by Red Guards, the people of Diantou Village where the temple resides, have done their best to update the images. In the early 1980’s, murals were repainted and gods were replaced with plaster likenesses.
This year marked the temple’s important Buddhist calendar anniversary, so the village elders solicited donations and recruited artisans to help repaint all of the shrines. The Barclays were the main sponsors, with local women providing the cooking. The painting restoration took three weeks after which time there were blessings and a communal lunch.
Below are the before and after photos of the restoration as well as some of the activities that followed in celebration. Scroll to the bottom for a video of the Guanyin Hall ceremony.