Qiongzhu Temple (Bamboo
The Qiongzhu Temple is situated on the
Yu'an Mountain to the northwest of Kunming amid wooded peaks,
clouds and mist, and flowing streams. It was first built
in the Yuan Dynasty.
During its history, spanning nearly 1,000
years, the Qiongzhu Temple has been burnt to ashes several
times and then reconstructed. The present structure mostly
dates from the late Qing Dynasty. Many antiques are on display
in the temple. From the famous poet monk, Dandang of the
late Ming Dynasty, to the patriot general, Li Genyuan of
this century, numerous people have left their antithetical
couplets here. But what makes this temple famous is the
colorful clay sculptures of the 500 Buddhist arhats. They
were created in the Qing Dynasty, during Emperor Guangxu's
time(1875-1909),when the temple was undergoing major repairs.
Li Guangxiu, a famous folk clay artist from Sichuan Province,
took his students to Kunming where they spent seven year
(1883-1890) preparing the sculptures. The arhats stand beside
the central Buddha in six rows, with three levels in each
row. Each arhat is about one meter tall. Each of the 500
arhats has a different expression and gesture. This is in
complete contrast to the usual fixed style of Buddhist sculptures.
With the religious subjects and use of exaggeration, the
ancient artists created lively images. Some of them are
reaching for the moon with extremely long arms, some are
crossing the ocean on extra long legs. There are bare-footed
monks and naked-bellied Buddhas. Some are lost in deep thought,
some are telling each other good news. Some are tranquil,
some angry, some surprised, some curious. One is scratching
his back, another is poking his ear. Here are most of the
expressions of man in this world- a representation of life
as it really is. Hence, the 500 arhats of the Qiongzhu Temple
are known as the "Sculptured pearls in the oriental treasure-house."
The temple is renowned for these sculptures.
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