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Chen Xiangu Temple

Shenzhen Daily


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The Story of Chen Xiangu

According to the "Annals of Gongming Town," Chen Xiangu, whose original name was Chen Duanhe, was born in 1860 to the Chen family of Shuibei Village (now known as Shangcun community) in Gongming, Bao'an.

She was depicted by artists as intelligent and was always eager to learn since childhood. At that time, there were few doctors and medicines in the nearby area, and the villagers were suffering from diseases and had nowhere to go to seek medical treatment.

Chen visited Dongguan, Zengcheng, Xin'an, and other places to seek advice from experienced doctors in order to find cures for the villagers' illnesses. She collected many prescriptions and treated many epidemic diseases such as dysentery and flu for the villagers. A legend connects her to more than 300 prescriptions that are still popular among traditional Chinese medicine physicians in the area.

At that time, a river named Dabi River (now known as Maozhou River) flowed in the north of Shuibei Village. Legend has it that there was a river god called Erhe God, who made trouble for the villagers by causing the river to overflow. One day in September 1871, it rained heavily and the river rose sharply, flooding farmland. Almost no crops were harvested and the people were displaced that year. More than 30 out of the original 50 households were forced to leave their homes to beg.

Legend has it that Chen Duanhe became an immortal, flying to heaven by riding a white crane. After she ascended to heaven and became an immortal, she told the Heavenly Officials about the wickedness of the river god. The river god was then punished and Chen became a goddess governing the area. From then on, Chen Duanhe was renamed Chen Xiangu.

After the goddess took over the area, local people lived and worked in peace and happiness under favorable weather conditions.

During the Tongzhi period (1862-1874), villagers spontaneously donated money to build the Chen Xiangu Temple. The story of Chen Xiangu was then widely circulated in neighboring areas such as Dongguan, Zengcheng, and Xin'an.

Chen Xiangu Temple

The Chen Xiangu Temple is located in Shangcun community. It has a history of more than 130 years and was first built during the Tongzhi period (1862-1874). The temple was destroyed in the 1970s and rebuilt in 2004. In 2008, "The Story of Chen Xiangu" was included in the first batch of intangible cultural heritage protection projects in Shenzhen.

The day Chen ascended to heaven (the 23rd day of the first lunar month) was designated as the Chen Xiangu Birthday. A temple fair and sacrificial activities are held every year for the event.

The newly built Chen Xiangu Temple covers an area of 2,000 square meters and was built according to the original model. It was put into use on Sept. 4, 2006, at which time worship activities resumed.

Cantonese opera 'Chen Xiangu'

In 2009, Gongming Subdistrict organized professional personnel to conduct in-depth exploration and interviews with local villagers, and prepared a story collection of over 100,000 words called "The Story of Chen Xiangu." Based on this, the story collection was adapted into the Cantonese opera "Chen Xiangu."

The drama has a total of seven episodes, with ups and downs in the plot. In 2009, it was selected for inclusion in a provincial list of Cantonese operas.

In 2011, the Gongming Cultural and Sports Center organized the Gongming Elderly Cantonese Opera Troupe to rehearse the sixth episode, and the troupe subsequently had more than 10 tours within the jurisdiction of Gongming. It also participated in community exhibitions of Shenzhen's intangible cultural heritage projects three times, and was enthusiastically received by the audiences.

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