Go back

View from the Eunuch's Temple

Description
Black and white photograph showing view to the hills from within the overgrown grounds of the Eunuch's Temple. The view is framed by two trees. Just to the right of centre is a stone column surmounted by the figure of a lion ('huabiao') and there are two carved figures, one at bottom left, the other at lower right of the image. From the temple grounds you can see the rooftops of temple buildings in the middle-ground and terraced hills in the distance.

Significance statement
Gangbing Ancestral Temple was built around 1410. In 1530 it was expanded and renamed The Ancestral Hall of the Exalted Brave and Loyal (Huguo Baozhong Temple) and was popularly known as the Eunuch's Temple. Gang Bing was a general under the Ming Emperor Yongle. It is said that on one occasion when the emperor went off on a hunting trip and left Gang Bing in charge of the palace, Gang Bing, fearful that his enemies would make false allegations against him of sexual misconduct with the palace ladies, chose to castrate himself. After such false allegations were made and Gang Bing cleared his name by proving his case, the emperor appointed him Chief Eunuch in honour of his loyalty. After Gang's death the emperor deified him as Patron Saint of Eunuchs, building an ancestral hall in his honour, and granted a large tract of land to be used as a cemetery for eunuchs. In the 1930s there were still eunuchs living at the complex which comprised courts, halls and extensive grounds. In 1950 the Eunuch's Temple became the Beijing Municipal Cemetery for Revolutionaries and in 1970 was renamed Babaoshan National Cemetery for Revolutionaries.

Production notes
This is one of a large number of photographs documenting significant historic sites taken by Hedda Morrison (1908-1991) during her years of residence in Peking (Beijing), China 1933-1946.

History notes
Exhibited in 'An Asian experience: 1933-67', by the Asian Studies Association of Australia, Fisher Library Foyer, University of Sydney, 12-30 May 1986; 'In her view: the photographs of Hedda Morrison in China and Sarawak 1933-1967', Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, 11 June - 10 October 1993; 'Old Peking: photographs by Hedda Morrison 1933-46', Art Museum of the China Millenium Monument, Beijing 10 May - 9 June 2002 and Powerhouse Museum, Sydney 6 November - 8 December 2002. Reproduced in Hedda Morrison, 'A Photographer in Old Peking', Hong Kong, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1985, p. 252, with the caption 'A view to the hills from within the Eunuch's Temple precincts'.

Credit line
Gift of Mr Alastair Morrison, 1992

Registration number
92/1414-332