Situated in the southern suburbs of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, the Temple of Marquis Wu (Wuhou Memorial Temple) is the memorial temple built in memory of Zhuge Liang (181-234), the prime minister of the State of Shu during the Three Kingdoms period (220-280) and an outstanding military strategist and statesman in the history of China. It is the most famous temple to commemorate Zhuge Liang, Liu Bei and other heroes of the State of Shu in China, the only temple for the worship of both the king and his high-ranking official, and the most influential museum of the historical relics of the Three Kingdoms in the country.
Temple of Marquis Wu was so named because Zhuge Liang, also named Kong Ming, was conferred the title of Marquis of Wuxiang. First built in the 6th century, the Temple of Marquis Wu was adjacent to the Zhaolie Temple – the memorial temple of Liu Bei, emperor of the Shu Han State. In early Ming Dynasty, the two temples were integrated into one.
The Temple of Marquis Wu is tucked away in the lushly growing cypress tress, and faces south. The existing structures were rebuilt in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Along the central axis, there are a number of architectural structures, such as the front gate, the inner gate, Hall of Liu Bei, the Corridor and Hall of Zhuge Liang. The inner gate leads to the Hall of Liu Bei and east and west wings, while the corridor leads to the east and west wings of the Hall of Zhuge Liang, forming a double quadrangle structure. The graveyard of Liu Bei is on the western side of the Hall of Zhuge Liang. Moreover, gardens and annexes are built on both sides of the axial buildings.
Among all the structures, the Hall of Liu Bei is in the highest place and its construction is very magnificent, showing the most supreme dignity of the emperor. The layout of the temple sticks to the hierarchical sequence within a single space, with the Civil Official Wing and Military Official Wing lying down the emperor’s hall, which is one of the features of the building.
Many cultural relics are also found in the temple, including 47 clay sculptures of the historical figures of the Shu Han, more than 50 steles, over 60 plaques, and over 10 ancient cooking vessels, stoves, bells and drums. Among the cultural relics, the stele in honor of Wuhou of Tang Dynasty, which stands between the front gate and the inner gate, is the most precious one. It is 144 inches high and 37 inches wide. For the article, the calligraphy and the engraving are all of the first-class, the stele is reputed as the “Stele of Three Superb Works” by the later generations.
The newly established “Three Kingdoms Culture” Exhibition Area is composed of two parts: the exhibition hall and the external environment. The exhibition hall falls into five parts, i.e., the Stormy Situation of War, Farming and Sericulture, Folk Customs, Celebrities of Art Circles, and Lingering Customs and Lifestyle of the Past. The external environment consists of the Sanfen Bridge, mythological animals, auspicious sculpted animals, spirit beasts, broken pillars of the Han Palace, “Fighting for the State”, “Immortal at the River” (a stone carving on the broken wall”, and the carved stone preface.
The Temple of Marquis Wu embodies the high combination of Confucian culture with military ideology, and is acclaimed as a sacred land of the Three Kingdoms by the people at home and abroad. Also, the temple is one of Chengdu’s major attractions.