Five Concubines Temple
In the city of Tainan, Taiwan, there is a first class historical site that honors five ladies who lived during the Southern Ming dynasty.
The five ladies were, Lady Yuan, Lady Wang, Xiu Gu, Sister Mei and Sister He, were secondary wives of Zhu Shu Gui, 朱術桂, the Southern Ming King Ning Jing, 宁靖王. (袁氏、王氏、秀姑、梅姐、何姐)
After the death of Emperor Chong Zhen at the Coal Hill just behind the Forbidden City, the Southern Ming movement was formed to restore the dynasty.
The King moved to today’s Tainan in 1648 at the invitation of Ming loyalist, Zheng Cheng Gong, who hoped to use the island as a base to restore the Ming dynasty.
Unfortunately, the resistance movement collapsed in 1683 when Zheng Ke Shuang, the grandson of Zheng Cheng Gong, surrendered to the Qing court.
End of Anti Qing movement
Realizing the end of the resistance movement, Zhu Shu Gui decided to commit suicide. He returned to his palace, now the Tainan Grand Matsu Temple, to inform his concubines and asked that they escape while they still could.
Generally, when Ming imperial members were captured by the Qing army, the male members were executed while the women folk were sent to Beijing as prisoners.
The five ladies refused and decided to demonstrate their loyalty to the Ming dynasty and their husband by ending their lives too.
The five concubines hung themselves in the palace bed room and were buried by Zhu Shu Gui before he ended his life.
In 1746, the tomb was discovered by a Qing official, Liu Shi Qi, who ordered the commander of costal defense to repair it and to add a tombstone for the five ladies.
During the Japanese period in 1927, Akie Muroto, the head of Tainan Branch of Patriotic Women's Association of Japan, initiated repair works.
An epitaph to the five concubines was composed by Koji Kita, the county magistrate of Tainan.
The Five Concubines Temple
The Five Concubines Temple is located in front of the five ladies’ tomb and in accordance to the status of the five ladies, the door gods of the temple are palace ladies and eunuchs.
Inside the temple, a set of sculptures representing the five ladies sits on the main altar. Behind this altar is a wall, with the tomb stone constructed in 1746 bearing the inscription dedicated to the five ladies, 宁靖王从死五妃墓.
Immediately behind this wall is the tomb and some distance to the right of the tomb is a small shrine marking the burial spot of two eunuchs who killed themselves after Zhu Shu Gui’s suicide.
There is also a spiritual tablet to the Five Concubines at the Zheng Cheng Gong Temple in Tainan.
Five Concubines Remembered
The temple is not very big but has a dignified ambience and very well kept. The street in front of the temple is named after it.
All of these and along with its status as a first class historical site shows the importance of the five concubine’s temple to the local community commemorating five brave and loyal ladies who committed suicide as an act of political resistance and as a demonstration of loyalty.
Five Concubines Temple
No 201, Five Concubines Temple street
Opening hours 8.30 am to 9.30 pm