The Five Immortals and Five Rams of Guangzhou

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on September 28, 2015.)

The Five Rams Statue in Yuexiu Park, Guangzhou

At the heart of Guangzhou's Yuexiu Park stands a statue of five goats or rams. The story goes like this:

Over 2,000 years ago, they say, the people in what is now Guangzhou were starving. Despite their hard work, the land was stricken by famine, so with no other recourse, they turned to prayer.

And their prayers were answered! Five Immortals came riding in on five goats. Each immortal was dressed in a different color, and each goat carried a sheaf of rice in its mouth.

(Interestingly, in East Asian tradition the five colors-- Blue, Red, White, Black, and Yellow--are associated with the five elements--Wood, Fire, Air, Water, and Earth--and the five directions--East, South, West, North, and Center.)

Anyway, the Immortals presented the rice to the people to cure their hunger, and gave them a blessing that would stave off famine forever. The Immortals then bade the people farewell and rose up into the air, leaving behind the goats--which turned to stone.

The 11-meter-high statue we see today is made of 130 blocks of granite. It is a copy of an original made in 1959 by three Guangzhou sculptors named Yin Jichang, Kong Fanwei, and Chen Benzong.

About two kilometers south of Yuexiu Park is Wuxian Temple, commemorating the site where the events in the legend took place. There you can see the Immortals' footprints, and a fine sculpture of them, as well as--on most days--offerings of sheaves of rice with fat heads of grain.

The legend has left Guangzhou with two nicknames: The City of Goats, and The City of Ears of Grain.

The Five Immortals Statue in Wuxian Temple, Guangzhou

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