We may never know the definitive answer to this one, but was hoping someone could shed some light in terms of educated opinions and/or factual evidence that points in a certain direction.
Here's what I know:
- There are lots of Southern styles of Kung Fu which appear to be of Shaolin origin
- The government of the People's Republic of China formally acknowledged the existence and destruction of a Southern Shaolin Temple
- An archeological excavation unearthed artifacts and monuments that point to Fujian province as the original source
- At least the following cities/towns contain ruins of temples which they lay claim as being the site of the destroyed Southern Shaolin Monastery:
- I heard that for economic reasons, the Chinese government is officially saying Quanzhou because it is less remote and thus more accessible (within a few kilometers of the city) and will thus appeal to more tourists, but that the archeological findings point to Fuqing. Also for economic reasons they are now going ahead with a so-called "Western Shaolin Temple" which I've personally never even heard of, may be a money-grab?
Oh, and of course there's also the infamous Chinese saying: "Northern kicks, Southern fists" as an ideal combination of fighting styles (or what to beware of when facing an opponent from each region), because of each region's strengths, indicating a difference of styles by geographic region and thus reinforcing the idea of a Southern Shaolin Temple and of course the accepted Northern Shaolin Temple in Henan province.
We may never know the exact truth, but hopefully someone here knows more than me.