Wednesday, December 19, 2012

LeShan Grand Buddha

According to the Chinese, the Grand Buddha carved into the cliff at LeShan is one of the "must sees" in the world, ranking right up there with the Sphinx in Egypt.  We went on an overnight trip with the Masons to check it out.
The Chinese have built beautiful, elaborate entrances to their National Treasures.  We were taking pictures even before we got to the Buddha!  Along the trail, there are reminders of the Chinese black dragon and white tiger, the yin and yang of Taoism.
Black Dragon (head above, tail below)

White tiger
The jolly, fat Buddha was here, too.
There was a main temple at the top of the cliff with beautiful wooden-carved statues in the entry.  The eyes had stones or ceramic and they gleamed in a fascinating way.  Some of these figures are war-like, others more benevolent.

Inside the temple, around the outer walls, were about 100 different statues of who knows who.  I found this guy who had eyebrows as long as the man I saw on the street in Chengdu.  Next to him, the guy looks bored and sleepy.  Then there's the one who's cleaning out his ear?  Not sure I understand Chinese religious art. 

They actually sell little sticks with small scoops on the end that look like mini shoehorns.  They are for cleaning the ear wax out of your ears!  They are decorated with tassels and small ornaments hanging off the end.  I bought a bunch of them because I think they are uniquely Chinese! 
 Apparently, if you donate enough money, you can have one of these oil lanterns lit with an "eternal flame".  They are in front of the incense burners, and come in differing sizes, apparently according to how much you donate.

There were active monks chanting in one of the main chambers, one of them tapping a "drum" to keep the beat.  They read from the scriptures in a rather monotone way.  

The doorways are beautiful.  I bought a brass "dragon" door handle just like these at the antique market in Chengdu!  Then, leaving the temple, you suddenly see the top of the Grand Buddha's head and realize, "There it is!"

The Buddha faces the confluence of three rivers.  The rivers caused so many shipwrecks from their violent rapids that a monk (Haitong, in 713AD) thought they should build a Buddha to provide protection.  The rubble from the carving of the stone was discarded into the river, and that provided a calming of the waters which the people attributed to the Buddha.  It took 90 years to build.  One monk worked for 20 years to raise the money for building it, and then an overseer tried to get a bribe from the man in order to approve his project.  The monk was so distraught that he said “I’d rather gouge my eyes out than pay a bribe to you.”  Then he did just that right in front of the horrified overseer!  Gross!
You can see the river and the town of LeShan through the fog on the left.
Look closely in the center to see his hand.  This also shows the staircase.

There is a treacherous, steep staircase down to the Buddhas feet if you dare, but obey the signs:

You can see that my job as an English teacher is a very needed occupation!
There are several niches with buddha statues as you make your way down the stairs.
It really does get quite hairy climbing down, and we were there on a weekday with no crowds!  It would never be approved for public use in the United States.

He's also called the "Sleeping Buddha", but his eyes are actually open a bit.
 We climbed back upwards through the red cliffs which reminded me of Sedona.

There were also beautiful views of the river, even though it was foggy.
Then, we turned a corner and came upon this gorgeous bridge!  This is the prettiest bridge I've seen in China.  And with the still river below, it was breathtaking--and picture-taking!!  See the little bird in the river?  So idyllic!
Near here was the Mahaoya Tombs Museum.  They exhibited artifacts, art work, and coffins from the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25-220) which were extracted from the honeycomb-maze of tombs that were carved into the red cliffs.  The Chinese buildings and grounds were so lovely.

Look at the amazing roots on this tree!
Lovely koi pond with the tombs in the background

Inside a tomb

 Back outside, we got a closer look at the cool bridge.  Check out the footings!
Love the Chinese dragons!

Down the river was a family living in a sampan, a fisherman with his net on his boat, and along the walk, we saw plants cultivated in any available space.  People certainly can live with very little.

See the rows of plantings?

Even plantings on this small island mound in the river.

And one last, farewell look back at China's prettiest bridge!

No comments:

Post a Comment