A Compilation of Records on the Northern Peak


The Northern Peak Temple is a Taoist temple located in Quyang, Hebei Province, where for centuries the emperors made sacrifices to Heng Shan, a mountain in Shanxi Province, one of the five sacred mountains of Daoism. The temple was founded in 98 BC as a shrine and took its shape between 500 and 510 AD. The temple was rebuilt twice, in 991 after its destruction by the Khitans and in 1270. A 1672 Quyang local gazetteer described its layout thus: “There are six remaining parts of buildings including a gate, a Ming octagonal building called Tian yi ge, two more gates, and the Dening Hall, with murals in the central hall, and a large platform in front with remains of stone sculptures. There are also about 137 stone tablets with inscriptions, standing on the grounds of the temple, dating from the Northern Wei up to the Qing dynasty.” During the Jiajing reign (1522‒66), the magistrate of Quzhou County, Hou Tingxun, initiated and petitioned to the provincial governor, Shi Shan, to gather and compile these inscriptions of historical value. He and others were sent by the governor to the site to copy them. Eventually Huangfu Fang (1497‒1582), a poet and Ming official, compiled a volume in three juan and issued it in the 11th year of Jiajing (1532) with the title of Bei yu bian (A compilation of records on the Northern Peak). This Jiajing edition, printed in blue, has an introductory juan and three textual juan, bound in two volumes, with a preface by Shi Shan. A preliminary juan contains the table of contents and preface. In addition to the three juan with subtitles, there is a 15-leaf supplement with poems written after 1532. The Library of Congress also has a later expanded edition, issued in 1590, in 10 juan in 4 volumes, compiled by Wei Xueli, a subprefect of Guangping Prefecture, Hebei Province, based on this earlier work, with much more detail.

Last updated: January 10, 2018