Though founded in the Song Dynasty (968-975), the temple - now located on Guizhai East Road - was replaced to Liuyang in 1818, 23 years into the reign of Jia Qing. Built in a style typical to in South China, the temple is well preserved, though marks and flaws caused during the infamous Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) can still be seen on stone pillars and in the eaves. Walking towards Dacheng Hall, you will find a pair of twin pavilions on both sides of its gate. These were places to play ancient music. At sacrifice-offering ceremonies, 64 musicians, 10 singers and 64 dancers were required, and it took almost one hour for the whole show.


It is also called gagaku, a kind of sacrifice music, which is a confluence of song, dance, rite, and instrument. Since the beginning of the Western Zhou Dynasty, gagaku, along with law and ritual, constituted the supporting forces of aristocracy.
The origin of the ancient music is traceable to the Zhou dynasty (1050-221 BC). Most of the music was lost later on, however, with only Ta Shao and Ta Wu (the Poems in The Book of Songs and Greatest Pieces of Palace Music in Zhou Dynasty) passed on. As later rulers valued Confucianism in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the Qing government tried to restore all the music once used in the memorial ceremony for Confucius. Among that music, the Liuyang ancient music was the most influential.
In accordance with the ancient musical system, the materials used to make musical instruments were wood, stone, gold, gourd, earth, leather, silk and bamboo, which are called the eight sounds. Such instruments include stone chimes, bell chimes, Chinese windpipe, 25 stringed horizontal harp, flutes and drums. In addition, dance-hosts wore special clothes and hats. A long narrow flag with a dragon painted on it was used to conduct the orchestra. Raising the dragon flag meant the start of the music, while dropping the flag brought it to an end.
  • — Stone-chime
  • — Lagenaria vulgaris
  • — Fengxiao
  • — Mrok
  • Students there did not need to pay tuition, but they didn't receive any payment for performances besides a little meat. After beginning with learning how to dance, they later gradually became music and ritual masters. Only prestigious man could have the chance to be a ritual master at ceremonies, which was the highest goal for young learners.
    — Senior musicians who played the ancinet musical instruments
    In 1829,Liuyang Magistrate Du invited Supervisor Jiu to teach ancient music and to make the instruments needed to perform it. Later on, the Liuyang Ritual and Music Center was established. Children at the age of 13 were admitted to learn the ancient music, which integrates song, dance and ritual together.
    — Liuyang ancient musical scores
    After the music was developed, workers from the Confucius Temple in Qufu, Shandong, came to Liuyang to study the music. In 1963, the Ministry of Culture appropriated special funds for the complete restoration and exploration of ancient music. All ancient musical instruments were provided, and amateur singers were trained in music and dancing. A book Information about Liuyang Ancient Music was compiled.
    Examples of ancient musical instruments have been collected by the Hunan Provincial Museum. Scores of Liuyang Ancient Music still exist in Japan.