I’d heard about the strange Dongyue Temple, which was built 700 years ago and only recently restored and opened to the public. Like most temples here, it’s structured around courtyards, with columned porches leading to the rooms at the perimeter. Unlike anything else I’ve ever seen, the rooms are identically-sized niches filled with near-life-size wooden sculptures of people, gods, and monsters. Some are calm and dignified; many are gruesome.
Each niche represents a “department” of the Zhengyi branch of Taoism, including:
Department of Accumulating Justifiable Wealth
Department of Opposing Obscene Acts
Department of Wandering Ghosts
Deep-Rooted Disease Department
The center of the courtyard contains Beijing’s largest collection of stone tablets.