Yue Fei and Wuhan (Part 3)
3. The Yue Pine
Walk a few hundred of steps east of the Hongshan Pagoda in Wuchang there are several ancient pines. According to the records of the Pagoda, “The Lord of Loyalty of Song, Yue Fei, ascended the mountain to hand plant giant pine trees during the reign of Emperor Gaozong (1131 – 1162 AD).” The descendents called the pines “Yue pines” in memory of Yue Fei's deeds of "Serving the country with the outmost loyalty". The pine trees originally planted by Yue Fei are long gone. Today’s pine trees were replanted by people in memory of Yue Fei. The pine trees are evergreen, which signifies the spirit of “loyalty to the country” being passed generation to generation.
4. Baoguo (“Serve the Country”) Temple
Baoguo Lane is under the jurisdiction of Cuiwei Street, Hanyang City and was named "Serving the country with the utmost loyalty" to commemorate Yue Fei's heroic deeds. Back in the day, when the news that Yue Fei was killed spread to Hanyang, the local people were filled with grief and indignation. They decided to donate money to build a Baoguo (meaning to serve the country) Temple on a mound about half a mile southeast of Cuiweifeng (present day South Gate of Hongwei Tool Factory). In name, it was built to worship Buddha, but actually, it was used to offer sacrifices to Yue Fei. The temple, about 200 square meters in size, was built with red sandstone. There were three rooms in the temple. When the temple was completed the fatuous and self-indulgent Emperor Gaozong was still on the throne and the treacherous court official Qin Hui still in power, therefore, there were no statues of Yue Fei in the temple and no inscribed board, but only the name “Baoguo Temple.”
After ascending the throne in 1162, Emperor Xiaozong restored Yue Fei's name. The Baoguo Temple in Hanyang was renamed Yue Fei Temple. The four Chinese characteristics written by Yue Fei himself "Serving the country with the utmost loyalty" were inscribed on to a horizontal board and hung inside the main hall of the temple.
It was said that Yue Fei presented the four characters to the people of Hanyang. When the Yue Army were chasing after the Jin Army that had fled across the northern bank of the Han River, the people of Hanyang offered ideas and helped the Yue Army create rafts made of bamboo and wood to cross the river. This saved valuable time in the chase.
From the Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368 AD) until 1949, people still called it the Baoguo Temple. In 1950, there were still three old nuns living in the temple. It was destroyed during the “Great Leap Forward” in 1958.
From the Republic of China to the time prior to the “Cultural Revolution” under the communist rule, the people in Hanyang still called a lane and the surrounding residence to the northeast of the Yue Fei Temple as Baoguo Temple. In 1967, the lane was renamed as Weiwu No. 8 Village. The name of the lane was changed to Baoguo Lane in 1972 in memory of Yue Fei.
5. Bingcangge (“Soldiers’ Station”)
According to historical records, in the spring of 1134, the Jin Dynasty army moved southward to invade the Central Plains. Yue Fei proposed to Emperor Gaozong to send troops to reclaim the six cities occupied by the enemies. That May, the imperial court appointed Yue Fei as the Military Commissioner of the Hanyang Army. He was ordered to advance his troops toward Jing Lake. Yue Fei’s army reclaimed Yingzhou (present day Zhong Xiang), then divided the army into two to attack Suizhou, Xiangyang, Tangzhou and Dengzhou (now Tanghe County and Deng County in Henan). After Yue Fei's army defeated the enemy it returned to Ezhou (now Wuchang), and stationed the troops in Hanyang.
Since Yue Fei's army treated the locals the same way as they treated their parents and were strictly disciplined, it did not commit any crimes against the civilians. As a result, it won the hearts of the local people. A motto goes like this, “It's easy to shake a mountain, but difficult to shake Yue Fei's army.” When the army reached Hanyang, it was midnight. In order not to disturb the civilians, the General's Headquarters and the army remained in the wilderness, about one mile southwest of Hanyang City. They were stationed there for nearly ten months.
The present day intersection of Lanjiang Road West and Guiyuansi Road is the very spot the Yue Army was stationed. Later, the area was called Bingcangge (“Soldiers’ Station”). In the past, this deserted area was full of trees, bamboo and tombs. There was a pond in the area that completely froze over during winter. Therefore people also called this area Bingtangjiao (“Ice Pond Corner”).