Xiantong Monastery (Xiantong si)
Time:2005-12-13 Author:danfeng
Another of Taihuai village's Buddhist complexes, the
Xiantong Monastery (Xiantong si) distinguishes itself by being the largest of the Wutaishan temples, with a total of 400 rooms, and by being the oldest, apparently dating as far back as the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 AD). This temple is generally accepted as one of the two oldest temples in China, along with Luoyang's Baima Temple.
The monastery has so much variety that it would be impossible here to give any semblance of generalisation as to various room contents. There are, however, a few halls that stand out. The centerpiece for religious activities in the monastery is the Grand Hall (Daxiong baodian), a commodious building that houses a large statue of Sakyamuni, as well as two other top-ranking Buddhas. The large bronze bell here, is sounded on important Buddhist dates, adding to the already solemn religious aura. The Chinese calligraphy on the exterior of the bell is a beautifully executed sutra.
Probably the most glamorous room in the whole complex is the Bronze Hall (Tong dian) whose interior is aptly totally made in bronze. There are said to be over 10,000 bronze Buddhist statues in here, the largest of which is a large portrayal of the Wenshu Buddha (Manjusri, Buddha of Wisdom), seated on a sphinx-like lion. Of the other interesting bronze works in the monastery two pagodas in the central courtyard are particularly intricately patterned.
There are numerous other delights in this monastery and the best thing to do is to just wander about. The architecture itself is particularly nice, and more than half a day can easily be spent wandering among the seven rows of halls.
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