The Yang Memorial Temple

The Yang Memorial Temple (Yang gongci), located behind the offices of the Justice Bureau, was built in honor of Yang Jisheng (with an assumed name of Yang Jiaoshan) of the Ming Dynasty who risked his life to speak the truth. From Rongcheng in Hebei Province, Yang Jisheng was clever and quick-witted. His literary talent led him to become a successful candidate in the imperial examinations during the reign of the Ming Emperor Jiajing.

Yang worked hard and was never intimidated by authority. After rising to the position of councilor in the Ministry of Personnel Affairs, he was demoted when he opposed the plans of a man called Qiu Luan who wanted to open a horse market. Qiu Luan was later found to be involved in corrupt affairs, so the emperor gave Yang his job back. Yang Jisheng again petitioned the emperor accusing Prime Minister Yan Song of gross crimes and profound wickedness. The petition is now embedded in the wall of Yang Jisheng' s old residence in Dazhiqiao Lane outside the Xuanwumen Gate. Yan Song, furious at eh accusation, had Yang Jisheng unjustly interrogated and imprisoned in 1552. In the Official History of the Ming Dynasty it is written that Yang Jisheng, while wasting away in prison, used the fragments of a broken bowl to cut off the rotting flesh from the infected wounds on his hand. He lived for three more years in prison before the treacherous official Yan Song had him executed. He wrote the following poem before his death:

The noble spirit returns to the great void,
The loyal heart remains eternal.
All my life my debt of gratitude unpaid,
In heaven my devoted soul will continue to serve

In 1784, during the Qing Dynasty, Yang' s old home was converted into a memorial temple. An inscription,"The House of Mr. Yang Jiaoshan,"was carved on the main gate and an image in his likeness erected. The Draft Petition Pavilion was built to house a stone tablet with the inscriptions of his draft petitions to the emperor. But the elm tree, which he had planted while in prison, was knocked down in a storm in 1953 and the pavilion too. In order to preserve this historic site, the Justice Bureau rebuilt the temple, preserving a piece of the elm tree on a stone tablet and marking the spot with another small pavilion.



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