Southern Shaolin in China

At this moment (2001) there are 3 Southern Shaolin Temples in China. All of them are located in Fujian Province. One of them is located in Fuqing, one in Quanzhou and one is located in Putian.

Of those three I visited two: the temple in Putian and the one in Quanzhou. A report of my visit can be read on this page, as well a short discription of the temple in Quanzhou and some historical research on both the Fuqing and Putian temple.

Putian Southern Shaolin Temple.

Introduction, from the book: The Riddle of Southern Shaolin (Translated from Shaolin Fang Gu, by Wen Yu Chen ISBN:7-5306-2830-5)

“On April 4, 1992 the Putian city government held a press conference to announce that in a township therein the remnants of the Southern Shaolin Temple had been found. Xin Hua and 19 other Chinese and international news agencies showed up for the conference. Soon after, the news was published in Xin Hua and Zhong Xin outlets. The stories said that the work on the theory that Southern Shaolin was located within the LinQuan Yuan in Putian’s Lin Shan neighbourhood began with the ‘Southern Shaolin Temple Remnants Meeting?on Sept 14, 1991. Attending this meeting were more than 30 scholars and experts from seven provinces and was led by the head of the Chengdu Sports Administration, Prof. Yu Yun Tai, Chinese Peoples University (Renmin Daxue) professor Tai Bao Qi, and professor Luo Zhao of the Chinese Social Science World Religion Research Center. The meeting’s main presentation of evidence was a piece of research by the Fujian Cultural Center, Archaeological Team member Lin Gong Yu, entitled ‘Putian Lin Quan Yuan’ ruins discovery and early analysis.

According to this report, from Dec. 1990 to May 1991 a 1,325 square meter ruin was found with strata beneath that included Song, Yuan, Ming and late Qing dynasty periods. The remnants accord with building techniques of Ming through Song times. At the same time, Song dynasty era carvings were found that have clear writing: ‘Lin Quan Yuan, Enlightened Teacher Nan Ti’s tower, Tian You, thus proving it is indeed Lin Quan Yuan. However, Song era writers record in the ‘San Shan Zhi?(records of San Shan) report that Lin Quan Yuan construction was begun in 557, which is a long way from the Song era (1100’s).

The archaeologist proposes the following theory in the section ‘Concerning the problem of the Southern Shaolin Temple: ‘This find has not found any direct evidence of the Southern Shaolin Temple, but there is a lot of circumstantial evidence which points to this Lin Quan Yuan as being the Southern Shaolin mentioned by so many modern scholars, legends, novels, and stories among the people.

5 points support this conclusion.

First, ‘correct place. Many scholarly reports are that the southern temple was somewhere in Fujian’s Putian ‘jiu lian’mountains. Moreover, the Lin Quan Yuan is found in the Lin Shan neighborhood, which was called Quan Shan in Song times. ‘Jiu Lian mountain came along much later as a result of secret society activity.
Second, the Lin Quan Yuan had martial monks. Within the ruins a large stele was on which was carved ‘This temple’s martial monks Yong Qi and Jin Qi built a trough in Sept. 1063, placed by Ti Rong. The archaeologist concludes, ‘martial monks are naturally associated with Shaolin.

Third, Lin Quan Yuan’s location ‘created the right conditions for Northern Shaolin disciples to visit.
Fourth, Lin Quan Yuan is surrounded by several other temples, ‘and these temples records and steles have many references to Shaolin disciples’. For example, Ku Zhu Temple, Jiu Lian Yan Temple and others record that Shaolin monks built them. The nearby temple’s relationship with Lin Quan Yuan was very close, and some even counted themselves as sub-temples. This seems to show that Lin Quan Yuan could be the Southern Shaolin.

Fifth, the Southern Shaolin ‘has always and forever been related to Hong Men (early triad) legends. Lin Quan Yuan’s own destruction seems to coincide with the legends of early Qing demolition of the Southern Shaolin temple. The temple’s northern building ‘Red Flower Pavilion’ (built in 1646) has written over the door ‘All things return to the 3-foot sword, in the time of the 5 clouds, the 7-star flag will appear, which seem to relate to the Hong Men’s leader, Wan Yun Long. Not coincidentally, many of the late Ming loyalists ‘left home’ (become monks) and entered the Putian, Fujian Jiulian Southern Shaolin temple.

Overall, much of the scholarship in the report is trustworthy. However, the theories in the ‘Concerning the Southern Shaolin problem are not. For example, Hua Qiao University’s Lin Yi Zhou’s work ‘New Study of the Southern Shaolin Temple presents several doubts:
Fan Wen Lian’s 1941 revision of the ‘Complete History of China (school text book), struck out the line ‘Kang Xi’s 13th year, the triads were formed; they were begun by the Putian, Fujian Jiu Lian Mountain Shaolin Temple monks, because it was seen as incorrect and nothing but legend because Putian does not have a Jiu Lian Mountain.
Also, ‘martial monks’are not solely from Shaolin. In the Yuan Dynasty, the Quan Zhou Kai Yuan monastery also had fighting monks.
Therefore, the words ‘martial monks’ carved on the stele cannot be definitively related to Shaolin, northern or southern.

In November 1992 I asked about the problem of Lin Quan Yuan and Southern Shaolin, and after much debate, my opinion (Wen Yu Chen, writer) was asked for. I replied ‘there is nothing in the Songshan (northern) Shaolin Temple’s writings, or other materials we have currently, to indicate a Southern Shaolin
Temple. Whether Lin Quan Yuan is or isn’t, much remains to be seen and only hard research will reveal the truth.”

In 1990 archeologists found the ruins of a temple complex on Jiulianshan near Putian villeage in Fujian Province. It took them 2 years to decide that this was indeed the location of the famous and long lost South Shaolin Temple. It was quite a spectacular finding, and reports of the excavation activities could be seen on TV all over China. Soon after this it was decided that a brand new temple was to be build, bearing the name ‘Southern Shaolin Temple’. The original name of the temple was “Quanlin Yuan”.
Different from what you may expect, the new building wasn’t planned in the direct vicinity, but actually on the exact same spot of the old temple.
Anyone who wants to visit this location and wants to see some ruins or leftovers from the original building, is better of staying home because there is practically nothing left to be seen. Apart from some stone artifacts and bricks, all the old things are gone. The fact that the new temple is standing on the some spot as the original, and thus destroying any remains, is quite unbelievable, but the truth. At this moment the South Shaolin Temple consists of two main buildings, and some smaller side buildings. There are plans to add more buildings in the future, but since all money was spend on building these 2 buildings, further construction is postponed.
The plan of the temple is said to based on the layout of the original temple, although the general layout is not to different from any other Buddhist temple in China. In one of the buildings one can see a moquette of the temple as it is supposed to look like in the future. Interesting is that areas of the temple that are already completed, sometimes differ quite a bit from the moquette. The pictures above gives a nice overview of the new temple. First the gateway, than an entrance building. After that the first big building. On each side (a very) modest tower: one drum and one bell tower. Then the second and last building. Behind this is the temple wall. Attached to the tower buildings there are some smaller buildings, leading up the back part of the temple complex.
Nearest big city is Fuzhou. From there a coach bus to Putian Village. From the main bus station a minibus to the outskirts of town. There awaits a special minibus which will take you directly to the temple. Only one problem; it will only leave if filled with passengers. And that is a bit of problem, since this little village isn’t exactly crowded with tourists.
Next to the place where the bus was waiting, there was a enrollment desk of the Martial Art school of the temple, manned by a few bored students. They were handing out flyers to the people that got on the bus.
There is a brand new road leading up to the temple, appropriately named ‘Nan Shaolin Lu’ (South Shaolin Road), and this picture shows the archway at the beginning of the road . Road signs told us that ‘The Famous South Shaolin Temple’ is located 11 kilometers outside the city. As I said, a brand new road up the mountain, but some parts were already partly covered with huge rocks that tumbled down the mountain. A bumpy ride of 20 minutes will take you up the mountain.
Main gate of the Southern Shaolin temple in Putian, Fujian.

This is the actual entrance to the temple; admission is charged here. It was a very modest 5 Yuan (Shaolin temple in Henan province: 45 Yuan) Tthe temple wasn’t officially opened yet. Grand opening was scheduled around September or October 2001.

The first big building, directly opposite of the entrance gate. This building is called Tian Wang Dian, or Hall of the Heavenly Kings. A Buddhist temple in China isn’t a Buddhist temple without this hall, which can be found in countless other temples in China

Heavenly King with Pipa.

Inside the Hall of the Heavenly Kings. Facing the entrance gate sits a statue of Meile Dafo, or Maitreya. Maitreya is a personage from Indian Buddhism, ready to absorb all the bad things in the world. The statue obviously looks Chinese. It is actually an image of a Chinese monk called Xi Ci. He was known all over China and everywhere he traveled he helped the poor and the needed. He could face the evil things in the world with a smile and nothing could make him loose his temper. Just before he died he spoke some Buddhist phrases, connected with Maitreya. After his death his image was used to display the image of Maitreya. He his always smiling; teaching us that we should confront all evil with a smile. He isn’t fat because he ate to much, but because he consumes all evil the world. On the background two of the four statues of the Heavenly Kings. The second picture shows Wei Tuo, or Skanda. He is the defender of the Buddhist faith. He always faces the Bao Dian. On the background the two remaining statues of the Heavenly Kings. Each direction of the wind has a Heavenly King; one holds a pipa, one a sword, one a umbrella and one holds a small ball and a dragon. Interesting detail is that the left thumb of Maitreya was broken of and hastily repaired; before the official opening of the temple.
Standing with your back to the Tian Wang Dian, facing the entrance gate, this is what you see. In a temple it is usually possible to walk strait through the middle, but in the South Shaolin temple there is a small pool, forcing visitors to walk around. Besides the pool on either side is a courtyard reserved for putting up stele; Master Sin Kwang Thé (Zheng Shen Guang). the U.S. paying his respects to the temple put a stele up. To the left side (from this picture’s point of view) is the entrance gate to the toilet, which doubles as the entrance gate to the temple’s martial art school and abbot’s residence. The martial art school is only open for visitors on Sunday. (Maybe good to know if you’re planning a visit).
The main building of the temple is the Daxiong Baodian. (Again same building twice) Inside Buddha Shijiamuni, or Sakyamuni. Flanked by other statues. Unfortunately no picture of this, but of you look carefully you see a glimpse of it on the first of the two pictures below.

On either side in total 18 Luohan, or Arhats.


These three buildings together is what makes this a temple; these buildings with the same setup can be found all over China; there is nothing special ‘Shaolin’ about it, in case you expected something like that. The impression it gave me was one of hastily build, low budget buildings. Not build to last centuries. Which is kind of sad, since this important place in as well in Chinese Buddhism as in Chinese Martial Arts deserves more than this.

Looking left and right with your back toward the Bao Dian, this is what you see. The picture on the right shows the Drum Tower, a building not completed and the temple shop, including sleeping shop assistants. In front of the shop there are some martial arts weapons on display, but inside they just sell some general Buddhist items.
On the left the Bell Tower, a building which displays a some archeological artifacts and a building which was closed and empty (not on the picture). They boy running is on of the martial art students living in the temple.

The building with the displays is by far the most interesting building inside the temple complex. Inside photographs of the excavation work, martial art displays form visitors from all over the world and calligraphy by Party leaders visiting the temple. Also on display a number of roof tiles and bricks from the original structure. The monk we met inside the Tian Wang Dian decided to give us a small tour and told us, amongst other things, that the big stone ‘bathtubs’ were used as water basins and for washing vegetables (inscriptions on it actually do say Luohan Cai).
These stone items were said to be used by the monks for their martial arts training. How exactly nobody knows. Maybe weight training or slapping their hands onto it for conditioning and strengthening. They are heavy though. (Daoheng)

These rusty weapons were also found on the excavation site.

All the artifacts above were used to determine wheter the Quanlin Yuan actually was the legendary Southern Shaolin Temple.
The temple is currently inhabited by 12 monks and a Abbot (Shi Suxi). Send there by the Chinese Government; once they were monks from the Henan Shaolin temple. Shaolin Grandmaster Shi Suxi is one of the oldest Shaolin masters left and is now in charge of restoring the Southern Shaolin temple. By sending their monks, the Songshan Shaolin temple states that Putian Southern Shaolin Temple is the ‘real’ Southern Temple.
For those who want to visit the temple (school), here the address. Just go to Fuzhou first and then show people at the bus station the address: you can’t go wrong. The third telephone number is also their fax-number. Wheter you get an (intelligent) reply depends on their mood and whose in the office (and the position of the moon amongst other things).

My visit to this temple was the basis for a article I co-wrote for Kung Fu/Qigong magazine.
(clear and bright) Pictures courtesy of Klaas Padberg & Dirk and my apologies to UCD Shaolin and for not asking their permission to use their pictures …
Martial Art school of the temple giving demo.

Lion dance inside the temple

Fuqing Southern Shaolin Temple

Introduction, from the book: The Riddle of Southern Shaolin (Translated from Shaolin Fang Gu, by Wen Yu Chen ISBN:7-5306-2830-5)
Fujian Province’s Fuqing County has had a Shaolin Yuan ever since Song times. After the Southern Song capitulated to the Yuan, a Quanzhou native Liang Ke Jia revised the ‘Three Mountain Record’ in 1182. Volume 36 is called ‘Fuqing County Temples’. Within this volume is a small section, ‘The Dong Lin Temple in Xin Ning area ‘the same area as the Shao Lin Yuan’. The Ming dynastyscholar, Putian native Huang Zhong Zhao edited the ‘Records of the Min Area’ in around 1499, and this also records that there are eight temples in the Xin Ning area of Fuqing County: Fang Dong, Dong Lin, Hou Tang, Long Xi, Zhao Fu, Long Ju, Shaolin and Da Xu.
Among these temples, the first to be built was the Fang Dong with construction beginning in 569. The Dong Lin temple was built sometime between 1086 and 1094. Hou Tang was built in 1117. However the other five temple’s construction dates weren’t recorded. On June 4, 1993 the Fuqing government’s Chen Hua Guang, Xu Chang Tong, and Yu Da Zhu found the remains of this aforementioned Shaolin in the Shaolin district of Dong Zhang township. The proof comes in two forms. First, the southern face of the Xia Yang bridge is inscribed ‘Shaolin Yuan’s Sha Men’ encouraged everyone to contribute merit and himself donated a bridge. Ju Fang De donated money because of Sha Men’s encouragement. The monks Xian Xi and Xian Gan each donated 400 Y.
On the north face is inscribed the time of construction, and a commemoration of Sha Men’s speech. The bridge is about 300 meters from Shaolin Yuan. Another piece of evidence is a large stone stele on which is inscribed ‘Yue Xiu, a monk on this mountain set this stone in the twelfth month of the fourth year of Da Guan’s reign.‘Monk on this mountain’ (dang shan seng) is most often preceded by ‘Shaolin’.
Fujian Provincial government and Fuzhou City archeological teams excavated the site in July and August of 1995 and March through October of 1996

The excavations uncovered a site of over 5000 square meters, currently the largest temple found within China. The archaeologists report found four strata: Northern Song, Southern Song, Ming/Qing and nearly modern. There seem to be strata below the Northern Song level, however it has yet to excavated. All the levels excavated have temple remnants in them. On more than 20 pottery shards that came from the site, writing was found on the bottom. The writings say ‘for Shaolin Yuan Use’ (1 piece), ‘Shaolin’ (7 pieces), ‘Shaolin ‘gong si’’ (2 pieces, probably a contraction of Shaolin Yuan Monk ‘gong si’. The importance being that a county’s head monk was titled ‘gong si’, a practice that began in the Northern Song), ‘Shaolin residence’ (1 piece) and several having ‘rice’,‘king,‘dragon builder’, and other characters.

These shards found over several strata prove that it is the site of the Shaolin Yuan. The archaeologists also point out that the location on the mountain, the size and orientation of the complex are all very similar to the Deng Feng (Northern) Shaolin temple. The Shaolin Yuan is in the northeastern corner of Fuqing county, at the intersection of three counties: Fuqing, Putian, and
Yong Tai. The area is especially beautiful with warm breezes and rich vegetation, a perfect place for Chan (Zen) reflection. From the site, directly east is Fuqing bay, and to the south is Xing Hua bay, which makes going to sea very convenient too. Indeed, one can easily say that it is the reflection of ‘Outside of Zen, soldierly things are discussed’ (A saying of the Northern Shaolin.)

On Nov. 21, 1997 I ( Wen Yu Chen, writer) visited the site with Fuzhou City’s Cultural Bureau Chief Zeng Yi Dan and archeological team lead Lin Guo, who carefully explained the findings and gave me a copy of the newly published ‘Fuqing Shaolin Temple’. Still, it isn’t clear when the temple was built, or what its connection to the Deng Feng (Northern) Shaolin Temple might be.

According to what is known at this point, during the Southern Song to the Yuan Dynasties, the Shaolin Yuan taught ‘Yang Qi’ Chan (Zen). A chart by Qing Zhe Ji shows that Yuan Wu Ke Qing (1063 – 1135) taught both Ta Hui Zhong XX (1089 – 1163) and Hu Qiu Shao Long (1078 – 1136). Ta Hui’s lineage includes on the one hand a series of unknown pupils leading to Ji Zhao and Wo An Ben Wu (1286-1343) and on the other Zhuo An De Guang (1121-1203), and Shaolin Miao Song, who later taught Yu Gu Yuan Zhi (1196 – 1266).

As for Hui Qiu’s lineage, he taught Ying An Xian Hua (1103- 1163) who transmitted the Law to Mi An Xian Jie (1118 – 1186) who, in turn had two pupils, Gu Chan Zi Jing and Tie Bian Yun Shao. Zi Jing was also involved in transmitting Zen to Yu Rong Yuan Zhi. Chong Zhao taught Shaolin De Cheng (1203-1254).

The importance of this is that in both the lineage of Da Hui (a.k.a. Miao Xi), as well as Hu Qiu’s later generation Shaolin Yuan disciples are to be found: Shaolin De Cheng and Shaolin Miao Song. Miao Song (a.k.a. Fo Xing) was known as Shaolin Miao Song because he resided in Shaolin Yuan. He was the 29th abbot of Hangzhou northern mountains Miao Ji Temple and also the 29th abbot of Hangzhou southern mountains Jing Xuan Temple. He wrote a ten volume ‘Transmissions of Shaolin Master Miao Song’, but it has been lost. Records of Master Ji Zhao can be found in the ‘Ben Wu’ volume of ‘History of Ming dynasty Advanced Monks’. From this work, we learn that Ji Zhao is Da Hui’s fifth generation disciple and that he is a monk of the Shaolin and Da Ban order.

Gu Chan Zi Jing, Tie Bian Yun Shao, and Shaolin De Cheng are all Fuqing natives. De Cheng was a Shaolin Yuan monk and this is confirmed by a well-known Southern Song writer Liu Ke Zhuang (1187 – 1296). In volume 159 of his notes ‘Complete Collection of a backwater man’, there is an essay that introduces two of his ‘outside friends’— Masters Shaolin De Cheng and Jiu Zuo Zu Ri.
From Liu’s works, De Cheng’s life can be roughly worked out as follows: 1203, born into the Zheng family of Fuqing County. In 1217, became a monk at 15 and was given the Buddhist name of De Qing. His teacher was Tie Bian Yun Shao. He probably ‘left home’ (became a monk) at Shaolin Yuan. In any case, he studied Chan (Zen) in Shaolin Yuan and Ding Zhou for about 22 years. 1242-1244 Lived in Cao An. 1245 – 1247, Lived in Weng Chi An. 1248 – 1254 lived in Hangzhou’s Jing Xuan temple.

These Shaolin Yuan monks all lived around the end of the twelfth century and into the end of the thirteenth, which is to say from the Southern Song dynasty Guang Chong years to the end of the Southern Song. In the North, this equates to the Jin dynasty Zhang Chong years to the beginning of the Yuan dynasty. At the same time in the Deng Feng (Northern) Shaolin Temple, the monks were members of the ‘Lan Qi’ sect and didn’t change to the ‘Cao Dong’ sect until after 1220.

The gate mentioned earlier with its ‘monk on this mountain’ was built in 1110 and the fact that the words ‘Shaolin Yuan’ weren’t inscribed is a hint that it wasn’t called that during those Northern Song times. If the Lan Qi sect followers of Deng Feng Shaolin had come south, it would have had to between 1161 and 1220. Perhaps the Yang Qi style (of Zen) is of the Lan Qi sect. Abbot Fu Rong built the Deng Feng Shaolin’s Zi Xue Pavilion between 1248 and 1254 and within it is the ‘word naming chart’. Moreover, the De Cheng of the Fuqing Shaolin, disciple of Ji Zhao ‘s ‘De’ is the 21st generation, while ‘Xu’ is the 26th.
It is impossible for the teacher to be after the student. Also, the words ‘Xian, ‘Ying,’Yuan’, etc of other Shaolin Yuan monks they don’t show up on the Deng Feng naming list. This goes further to show that even after the Yuan dynasty the Northern and Southern Shaolin temples developed alone. Some other reasons include that the Deng Feng temple had already changed to the Cao Dong sect and the southern-Song Fuqing temple’s inhabitants did not accept Mongolian Yuan dynasty rule, and didn’t recognize the abbot of Deng Feng Shaolin.

The Deng Feng temple has a large iron bell that was cast on October 25, 1336. The bell’s inscription includes those temples that were under Shaolin’s administration, a total of 23 temples. All of them are in the Henan area. Another Shaolin temple, near Beijing at Panshan, is also not on the list. Of course, individual monks may have made visits, but there are no examples recorded in the evidence.

In the Ming dynasty’s Jia Jing years, the Shaolin ‘martial monks’ were called out to fight coastal pirates. Their example of chivalry and bravery must have had a large impact on the coastal people. With the renown of the pirates being fought in the region for over 10 years, the Fujian people must have been especially impressed. Fuqing’s Shaolin Temple monks must have gotten a lot of encouragement. Then, during the early Qing dynasty when the triads were organized the call to ‘overthrow the Qing and return the Ming’ was heard. The Shaolin martial monk’s earlier loyalty to the Ming was deliberately used as an example to rally involvement in a strategic war and encourage boldness. Moreover, there’s a rich tradition that Fuqing Shaolin monks joined the triads. It is clear that the discovery of the Fuqing temple has given this theory new evidence and advanced it toward verity

Following information derived from a Chinese site located in Singapore:
“All the Kung Fu under heaven come from Shaolin”. There are parts of Shaolin, one is ‘Nan’ (South) and the other is ‘Bei’ (North). The Bei Shaolin temple was built in 490, in Songshan, Henan province. The Nan Shaolin temple was set up in 629, but until present day was nowhere to be found. It disappeared a long time ago and almost nobody can find anything about it.

In the past century, Chinese scholars worked hard and eventually they found the ruins of Nan Shaolin town in Dongzhang village of Fuqing in June 1993. The archaeologists did a lot of research in the ground and found many things; they concluded that Fuqing was the right place they were looking for. They started working in 1995.

Many historical records show that the temple was in Fuqing.
We can see the truth from the historical records. After a lot of research work, the following reliable evidence is available:
The famous modern work “Recipe of Shaolin Boxing” (published in 1915, by Zun Wozhai) says: ‘There are two Shaolin in our country: one is in Zhengzhou the other is in the center of Fujian’.(chapter 10)
Fuqing is situated in central Fujian. In ancient times, ‘central Fujian’, i.e. ‘Min Zhong’ is a special name for the area. Tang Hao, a modern martial artist pointed out in one of his works that “the Shaolin which is mentioned in “Recipe of Shaolin Boxing” is the Fuzhou Shaolin”. The scholar of Qing Dynasty, Zeng Gong said in his work “Do Shan Ting Jia”: Fuzhou is located in the center of Fujian, so we call the place ‘Min Zhong”. Fuqing was controlled by Fuzou from Tang Dynasty on, until the ‘liberation’. In the past some scholars thought Fujian Shaolin temple was just a legend, because there was no evidence. From the above one can say that in central Fujian one can find the ruins of Shaolin temple.
Liang Kejia, one of the number one scholars from the Song Dynasty said in his works: “Shaolin temples was in Fuqing”.
Huang Zhengzhao, one of the palace graduates, mentioned that Shaolin temple was in Fuqing in one of his works. That is, Shaolin was located in Xinningli of Fuqing.
A book written by Yebo and Zhang Mengjing in the Ming Dynasty, also mentions the Shaolin temple on page 21.
From books of Qing Dynasty it says that from the Song Dynasty until the Qing Dynasty, the Shaolin temple was located in Xinningli in Fuqing.
Some documents show that Xinningli is located in the northwest part of Fuqing. In the past Xinxingli belonged to Fuqing County. In 1910, Xinxingli changed its name to Liping, belonging to Dongzhang village. After the war in 1949, the name Dongzhang village was used. Xinxingli is a mountainous area and covers 65,000 square meters. Now the area Xinningli has been defined, the location of the temple can be found.
Maps of many dynasties shows that Shaolin temple is situated in Xinningli of Fuqing. One can find Xinningli on a lot of old maps. So there can be no doubt that Shaolin temple was located in Xinningli.
Liu Kezhuang, an artist and poet of the Song Dynasty mentioned Shaolin in one of his works.
He mentioned masters of Shaolin: Master Decheng and Shi Runzhao. He said that Master Decheng was the only one who was mentioned in the works of the Song Dynasty.
In addition, from Song Dynasty to late Ming Dynasty, there are a lot of poems and books about Shaolin in Fuqing.
In one of the historical records of Fuqing City, Xinran, of the masters of Shaolin was mentioned. He was born in 1680 and died in 1745 and is buried in one of the pagoda’s in Songshan Shaolin. Him being buried in Shaolin’s cemetery means that he was a Shaolin monk.
The layout of the Songshan temple is very similar to the ruins found in Fuqing.
Local customs are often related to religion. The book here (called “Invitations”), lists names of all the fairies and gods which local people offer sacrifices to. As it turned out, there were name of Shaolin masters in the list. People still offer sacrifices toe them although the temple had disappeared long ago. The book also tells about the Shaolin temple and also has the exact location in it. The description of the temple turned out to be very valuable and was in accordance with other historical records. In addition, there are a lot of places which contain the name ‘Shaolin’, such as Shaolin village, Shaolin bridge, Shaolin road etc.
Shaolin Ancient Bridge:
Shaolin monks build four roads and those roads included bridges. Though most of them were destroyed, one can still read out the characters for Shaolin on the bridges.
The relics found underground.
From the year 1995 onwards, people found 5000 square meters of ruins and a lot of relics were dug up.
The temple has a size of 20,000 square meters and most of the relics found had the words Shaolin inscribed on it. People found 30 ancient coins of all dynasties and the ruins also showed that the temple was rebuild several times and relics from different dynasties were found.
All Departments, such as Religion, Chinese Martial Arts agree the Fuqing’s ruins were the Famous Nan Shaolin temple. The municipal Government of Fuqing made the decision to keep the the unearthed cultural relics and to rebuild the Nan Shaolin temple. They also want to it a beautiful garden for travelers.
The temple that will be rebuilt covers an area of 67,00 square meters (50,600 square yards) which will contain 16,300 square meters of buildings.The Song Dynasty-like structure will be adopted in building the key parts, such as the main gate and the main temple and the Qing Dynasty structure will be used in the rest of the buildings such as the Bell Tower, dining hall etc. The subsidiary buildings include: Shaolin nunnery, post office, Shaolin Old Bridge, Wushu school, hotel, parking lot, Wushu practicing ground etc. They will cost 50 million yuan RMB.
Mr Zhen Shuxiang, the consultant of the Singapore Sao Hua San Athletic Association together with other people, has been to Fuqing twice to do research on Shaolin town. He also organized the committee for ‘Rebuilding of Southern Shaolin’, which is funded by overseas Chinese. Fifteen Singaporean Chinese are member of the committee. The Sao Hua San Temple called on all its disciples to collect funds. With this money they will be responsible to build the entrance gate, the arch etc for the temple. They also invited calligrapher Qiu Shaohua, to inscribe for the temple.
On the left Zhen Shuxiang, outstanding disciple of Shaolin of the 51 generation,director of the research group. On the left Qiu Yuqing mayor of Fuqing City.
The committee for ‘Rebuilding of Southern Shaolin’ did all they could and collected some funds. In late 1998 the research group for ‘Rebuilding of Southern Shaolin’ went to Fuqing to hold a opening ceremony.

The research group was warmly greeted by the Fuqing governmental leaders.
On December fourth, the Fuqing Government organized a discussion conference together with Research Group. Many leaders gave speeches on the meeting and consultant Mr Qiu Shaoshan also did. The Research Group also visited the Huangji Temple, Shizhu Mountain and Xishan Wushu school and other places. They also gave many suggestions on education the Nan Shaolin disciples. The provincial and local government and the Bureau of Religion were happy to learn that the Committee would start the rebuilding of the temple as scheduled. The Research Group handed over the funds they collected to the government of Fuqing. Many TV reporters covered the event.
After that the Group visited ‘Shaolin Town’ and they were warmly welcomed by the local people. They also over viewed the exhibition and observed the ruins.

On March first, 1999 the Committee delegation came to Dongzhang village Shaolin town to attend the opening ceremony. First building to be build was the Daxion Baodian.

Main gate Fuqing temple.

(A very big thanks to Jeffery ‘Mini Boss’ Huo Jian for translating)

Quanzhou Southern Shaolin Temple


Introduction, from the book: The Riddle of Southern Shaolin (Translated from Shaolin Fang Gu, by Wen Yu Chen ISBN:7-5306-2830-5)
“On July 9, 1992 the ‘Fujian Daily’ran a Zhong Xin wire story entitled ‘Important discovery about Southern Shaolin Temple found in Fujian’s Quan Zhou. The article said, ‘Quan Zhou historical scholars had recently discovered a Qing dynasty record book entitled ‘Records of the Western Mountain.’Within this record the location of the Southern Shaolin Temple was revealed as being just north of Quan Zhou in the Qing Yuan mountains.
The story also reported, ‘Well-known Quan Zhou historian Chen Si Dong introduced the find to this reporter saying that the recently reopened ‘Eastern Zen Shaolin Temple is built on the remains of the Southern Shaolin Temple mentioned in the ‘Records. ‘The ‘Records? were written during the Qing dynasty’s Jia He and Dao Guang emperor’s reigns. Furthermore, the book shows that during the Tang Dynasty’s Zhen Yuan emperor’s reign, Quan Zhou’s scholar Xu Ji’s ‘Records of Central Min’ (Min = present day Fujian, Taiwan and northern Guangdong) have references to ‘Qing Yuan Shaolin Temple.’

Mr. Chen Si Dong later had 13 articles in the Quan Zhou Evening News covering ‘Southern Shaolin Temple at Quan Zhou.’ His resources included the Song Dynasty work ‘Jiading WenLing Records’ edited by Minister Cheng Zhuo, a Ming Dynasty copy of the ‘History of the Qing Yuan area’s an 1810 copy of the Records of the Western Mountain, the 1927 ‘Martial Lineage of the Fu,’and the 1941 ‘Shaolin Martial Arts Reference’by Tang Hao.

Here are the main points Mr. Chen covers. First, all the materials, old to new, record the location of the Southern Shaolin Temple as Quan Zhou’s eastern area, in the Qing Yuan mountain’s eastern peak. The Records of the Western Mountain, say ‘The wisdom of the 13 Empties’ entered Min, built the Shaolin Temple on Qing Yuan Mountain, and settled there. Min’s martial monks all begin from this place. ‘The Shaolin Temple began with 13, and a high wall. The temple’s monks number in the thousands, with hundreds of acres and fragrant forests.’
Because Quanzhou Shaolin opposed the Min ruler, Wang Shen Zhi, the temple was razed for the first time. In the Song dynasty because ‘thousands of monks opposed the Mongols’, the temple was razed for a second time. Then in
1763, the Qing emperor issued orders to raze it again, and it wasn’t rebuilt. Nevertheless, from Mr. Chen’s articles, it is clear that his most relied upon resource is the Record of the Western Mountain. Current understanding is that the ‘Record’ was originally 12 volumes, but more than half were lost in times of war. Still, descendants of Cai Chun Cao saved six volumes. Then, during the cultural revolution, two more volumes were lost. In 1990, Hua Qiao University’s Lin Shao Zhou, while doing research in Jinjiang made several important discoveries, but which are currently unpublished.
The Record that Mr. Chen relies on is an essay of about 1800 characters and has been found to be full of mistakes. Therefore, it can only be taken as fictional.
For example, the ‘Record? reports that the abbot of Shaolin during the end of the Sui dynasty was ‘Qi Xuan’. However, Shaolin’s records report no such person. The ‘Record? also reports that the ‘13 Staff Monks’ were named ‘First Empty, Half Empty, Non Empty, Emptiness of Color, Zen Empty, Understanding Empty, Enlightened Empty, Empty Wisdom, Quiet Empty, Really Empty, Truly Empty, Empty Law and Empty Rule.
However, this is impossible. In the Sui and Tang times, there are no examples of this sort of naming convention for groups of monks. The Record also says that of the thirteen monks, seven died among the soldiers of king Zheng. However, there is no record of this elsewhere. There is neither supporting evidence for the statement that ‘The wisdom of the thirteen empties entered Min’ from here (i.e. Chan evangelism in the region started here.) In any case, the articles in the ‘Record’ concerning Shaolin in the Ming and Qing dynasties are more numerous. Perhaps they are records of local stories, but it is difficult to call it history (given their content). In conclusion, the ‘Records of the Western Mountain’ is simply full of errors. It cannot be trusted to as evidence of Quanzhou being the location of the Southern Shaolin temple. ”

Southern Shaolin BY DAN DOCHERTY
“…. Unlike the better known and older Northern Shaolin Temple at the foot of Songshan, which even when I visited in 1984 was already extremely commercialized, the Southern Shaolin Temple is a quiet place. Too many people write about Shaolin and Wudang, and how external arts are derived from Shaolin, while internal arts are from Wudang, but too few have actually been to either. So let me tell you what we found.

We got off the bikes and started to examine the main temple building, when a powerful looking young monk approached. I asked him if he practiced martial arts. He said he did and asked me if we would like to meet the monks. He took us to a nearby building which proved to be a training hall with various typical Southern Shaolin weapons. He told one of his colleagues to demonstrate a Guan Dao (halberd) form which was done with impressive skill.

At this point, the abbot arrived. He introduced himself as Shi Chang Ding. He told us that this was the temple we had seen was the only one in a proper state of repair and he showed us a map of the original temple layout saying that they were slowly renovating and rebuilding, but were dependent on donations. Abbot Shi added that there were around 17 monks at the temple receiving instruction in both traditional Southern Shaolin martial arts as well as Chan (Zen) Buddhism. He told us how the students came from all over China, but said that he did not insist that they were Buddhist before he started to teach them. He said that foreigners were welcome to come and train at the Temple and in fact a few had done so. He himself had been to Paris to give demonstrations.

Students followed a grueling schedule of martial arts training, Chan meditation, cultural activities (calligraphy, study of Chinese philosophy and history etc., and doing chores) They trained most days for 6-8 hours.

We then went out into the courtyard where one of his pupils performed a Tiger Fork (kind of Chinese trident) set with grace and skill. I asked if we could see an empty hand form as we wanted to see the special characteristics of Southern Shaolin boxing. It was interesting to see how practical the movements seemed compared with much Northern Shaolin. He said that Southern Shaolin boxing included a number of styles such as Crane, Tiger, Nanchuan, Lohan and others, but that in general, in Southern Boxing there was a greater reliance on hands and arms and low kicks and there tended to be less in the way of jumps and high kicks. Indeed most karate practitioners would have found many of the movements in this form to be familiar, though perhaps more fluid.

We were impressed with the sincerity of the abbot and his monks. They are considerable martial artists yet also humble and devoted to their art and religion.

….. For those interested in training in genuine Chinese martial arts with these warrior monks, I recommend you go to Quanzhou, get on board a motorcycle and go see the abbot. They won’t waste your time and you won’t waste your money.”

By Klaas Padberg:
“There were some Buddhist Monasteries in Fujian Province were they practiced martial arts. We visited two of these monasteries:
1. South Shaolin Temple located in Putian and newly rebuild on a site were archeologists found evidence of a temple were martial arts was practiced. This temple is now associated with the North Shaolin Temple in Henan Province. The former abbot of the North Shaolin Temple is the current abbot. We were given a display of modern based wushu as you can also see at the North Shaolin Temple.

2. Quanzhou Shaolin Temple located on the Dongye Hill in Fengze District. This monastery “was first built in the Tang dynasty on the initiative of a monk by the name of Zhikong from the North Shaolin Temple. After a few times of vicissitudes the temple was at last destroyed in the 28th year of Emperor Qianlong (1763).
In order to develop South Shaolin Wushu, the temple has been reconstructed recently”, and is still under reconstruction.

The abbot is Shi Chang Ding, a young scholar. He also is assistant secretary general to the Quanzhou City Wushu Association. Here they demonstrated some traditional Fujian wushu (read: kung fu) which impressed most of our group.

And because the abbot is associated with the local wushu community we were also treated on a superb demonstration of Quanzhou based masters and grandmasters like Huang Qing Jiang, Xu Qing Hui and Zhan Wan Feng.

Chiu Chi Ling Sifu had done a very good job in organizing this Southern Shaolin Tour.
We got more then we expected in terms of experience. The visited monasteries and the performances were to me not a ‘prefabricated spectacle’. Especially in the Quanzhou Shaolin Monastery we felt a very authentic atmosphere. An atmosphere I did not experience that intense when I visited the North Shaolin Temple in 1983. We were treated with respect and as equals and our group participated in the demonstrations showing our Hung Gar.

Ad. 2. Quanzhou Shaolin Temple. The info I have on this monastery is rather poor. It comes from a ‘Guide of Quanzhou Tourism’ that was printed in September 2002. (ISBN 7-80562-924-2). They also have there own flyer which states that they practice southern styles like Wuzuquan, Wujiechuaquan, Wumeihuaquan, and the like. It was rebuild after permission of the provincial government in 1992. The monastery is named Zhenguo East Chan Shaolin Temple and easy to find because it is located on the outskirts of town. This school also attracts young people to study the art of Shaolin.

There is a scientific book that explains more about the destruction of Shaolin: E.B. Vermeer, Development and decline of Fukien Province in the 17th and 18th Centuries, Sinica Leidensia, Vol. XXII, Leiden/New York 1990

If you go there on your own you want be treated the way we were. I have some old connections in Fujian (Fuzhou and Quanzhou) within the martial arts community that can open doors, but I just keep these for myself and trusted friends.”

(Pictures courtesy of Klaas Padberg & Dirk


Here they demonstrated some traditional Fujian wushu (read: kung fu) which impressed most of our group.






….a superb demonstration of Quanzhou based masters and grandmasters like Huang Qing Jiang, Xu Qing Hui and Zhan Wan Feng.