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Rare Photographs of the Shaolin Temple before it was Destroyed in 1928


Translator’s Note: These photographs record a very famous and significant Ch’an Buddhist temple that was destroyed in 1928 by the pro-Western, pro-Christion Nationalist Movement that formed the Republican Government of China.  The Shaolin Temple in Henan province has always offered an integrated practice of still, seated meditation, and work orientated meditation in the temple grounds, the surrounding agricultural fields, and in the martial arts training halls and outdoor precincts.  Perhaps the most astonishing of these pictures is the final plate featuring a small group of Shaolin monks parading in modern military uniforms, and carrying modern rifles.  I dedicate this translation to all martial artists who train to end violence and make the world a better place.  ACW 28.2.2016


In 1991, the Head Monk of the Shaolin Temple – Venerable Shi Yong Xin – led a delegation of Warrior Monks on a cultural visit to Kyoto, Japan.  Whilst in the Bodhidharma Temple of Kyoto, Master Yong Xin discovered the following set of very rare photographs taken of the Shaolin Temple in 1920, by Japanese visitors.


These photographs are incredibly rare, as in 1928, the Shaolin Temple was attacked and burned to the ground under orders from Vice President of the Republic (and Christian) Feng Yu Xiang.  The actual attack on the Shaolin Temple was carried-out by a Republican general named Shi You San.  (The attacking Republican troops killed the monks and ensured that around 90% of the temple’s manuscripts were destroyed).  These photographs explain to people alive today, what the old Shaolin temple looked like prior to 1928.


Shaolin Temple Mountain Gate

Kangxi Imperial Brush-Work On The ‘Shaolin Temple’ Name-Plaque – But Strictly Speaking May Not Be Kangxi Script

Main Entrance To The Main Shaolin Temple Hall – The Trees Are Hundreds Of Years Old

Founding Patriarch Of Shaolin Temple – The Indian Buddhist Monk Bodhidharma

Exquisite Library of the Old Shaolin Temple

Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Great Hall

Shaolin Monks Outside the Main Hall Of The Shaolin Temple

The Cave At Shaolin Where Bodhdharma Sat Facing The Wall

Patriarch Bodhidharma (Left), Guan Yin (Middle), Ch’an Master Huike (Right)

A Scenic View Of The Shaolin Temple

Tang Dynasty Emperor Taizong Authorised This Monument

Skanda – Subdued By A Shaolin Monk – And Now Protecting The Shaolin Temple

The Bell Tower Which Can Be Heard Over The Entire Shaolin Temple

Shaolin Monk Soldiers Trained To Protect The Temple From Warlord Attack