Jin Shrines  晉祠



  • Jin Shrines (English)
  • Jìncí (Pinyin)
  • Chin-tz`u (Wade-Giles)
  • 晉祠 (Traditional Chinese)
  • 晋祠 (Simplified Chinese)


  • China
  • Province:
    • Shanxi Province (English)
    • 山西省 (Traditional Chinese)
    • Shānxī shěng (Pinyin)
  • County-city:
    • Taiyuan Municipality (English)
    • 太原市 (Simplified Chinese)
    • Tàiyuán shì (Pinyin)
  • Coordinates:
    • Lat. 37.707681° Long. 112.436414°
  • Site Information

    The “Jin Shrines” which might also be translated the “Memorial Shrines of Jin” are a group of ritual structures located at the site of the Jin Springs (晉源), approximately 25 kilometers southwest of modern Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi province. The site contains in excess of thirty worship halls, pavilions, stages, and building complexes dating from the Song dynasty through the twentieth century. Although most late imperial and modern sources regard the site as being dedicated to the ancestral spirits of the Western Zhou state of Tang 唐 (later called Jin 晉), Miller suggests that the complex is best understood as a small "sacred site," whose primary importance to the local community was the natural spring and the goddess associated with its life-giving water. In so doing she proposes that the organization of the structures within the larger walled complex favored the topography of the site, with the primary temple buildings facing the canals which fed the local irrigation system. Topographical (or fengshui 風水) considerations often override rigid cardinal/southward orientation at sacred sites across China, including Mount Wutai 五台山 (home of the bodhisattva Manjusri) and Mount Heng 恆山 (the northern of the Five Marchmounts 五嶽), located further north in Shanxi province.

    Shu Yu of Tang 唐叔虞, a historical Zhou dynasty feudal lord enfeoffed with the state of Tang during the Western Zhou dynasty (ca. 1045-771 BCE), was worshipped at this site from at least the 6th century CE. Textual sources indicate that from at least the fourth century BCE, Shu Yu of Tang was considered to be the ancestor of the Warring States period Jin state. Rather than keeping the title "Tang," Shu Yu’s son was given the title King of Jin 晉王 and the name of the state was changed from Tang to Jin. Although archaeologists place the Western Zhou capital of the Jin state near modern Quwo, by the end of the Warring States period the site of the Jin Springs was tied to the historical Tang/Jin state (as a capital) as well as military control of the territory around Jinyang (through the military use of the water in the Earl of Zhi Canal); and the Jin River was thought to be the eponym of the larger Jin state. The Shu Yu of Tang Shrine currently found on the northern side of Jinci dates to the 18th century.

    The oldest building at the site, the Sage Mother Hall, is dedicated to the goddess of the Jin Springs. The hall was likely rebuilt after an earthquake in 1038, and inscriptions found at the site indicate that the structure was in its current form by at least 1087. The goddess was officially canonized as the Sage Mother of Manifest Aid 昭濟聖母 by the Song Court in 1077 CE, a title that was changed to Spirit of the Jin Springs 晉源之神 in 1370, at the beginning of the Ming dynasty. Archaeological and epigraphical documentation of the development of the site in the 16th century suggests that, by the end of the Ming dynasty, officials believed it better for the people to worship the water goddess as the historical figure Yi Jiang 邑姜. Yi Jiang was the daughter of the famous general Jiang Ziya 姜子牙 (11th cen. BCE; aka Jiang Taigong 姜太公), the wife of King Wu of Zhou 周武王 (d. 1043 BCE (?)), and mother of Shu Yu of Tang. Evidently a dual spring-goddess/historical-figure identy was not inconsistent with the beliefs of the Confucianized elite.1

    Dynasty Eastern Han - Post Qing 2

    External Links

    Works Cited

    Any information without attribution has been created following the Syriaca.org editorial guidelines.

    • 1 MILLER. 2007. The Divine Nature of Power: Chinese Ritual Architecture at the Sacred Site of JinciLink to Zotero Bibliographic Record
    • 2 WILKINSON. 2000. Chinese History: A Manual, 12.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record

    How to Cite This Entry

    Tracy Miller, “Jin Shrines 晉祠 ” in Architectura Sinica last modified October 20, 2023, https://architecturasinica.org/place/000048.


    Tracy Miller, “Jin Shrines 晉祠 .” In Architectura Sinica, edited by . Entry published March 21, 2018. https://architecturasinica.org/place/000048.

    About this Entry

    Entry Title: Jin Shrines 晉祠

    Authorial and Editorial Responsibility:

    • Tracy Miller, entry contributor, “Jin Shrines 晉祠

    Additional Credit:

    • Editing, proofreading, data entry and revision by Tracy Miller
    • adding external links Song Qisen
    • Website coordination by Yuh-Fen Benda

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