Tayuan Temple, Wutaishan, Shanxi
(August 27 & 28, 2012)

(1) Here's a view of the giant "milk bottle" stupa at Tayuan (stupa compound) as seen from the path down from Xiantong Temple. It was originally part of Xiantong, below which it lies.

This stupa is the premier symbol of Wutai Shan. I hadn't really planned to stop here, having already seen six temples (five from my list) today, but as my path led right past the front gate...

(2) The front of the Heavenly Kings' Hall

(3) The front of the Main Hall

(4) Inside the main hall were numerous figures, but the sign outside was missing, so I could only guess who was who. This is the Shakyamuni Buddha with his usual attendants, Ananda and Kasyapa, but I'm not sure who the other fellows are--maybe the commonly-seen Hindu god attendants?

(5) The "Garan Hall" (dedicated to Guanyu, called "Jielan" in Buddhism) is said to have a "vegetarian Bodhisattva" in it, but I couldn't figure which was which.

(6) Here is the stupa in its small compound. Devotees circumambulate under the dark roof.

(7) Another view of the stupa (with flowers). It's claimed that there's a mysterious "Ashoka Stupa" inside, a vision of which led the founding monks to this mountain.

(8) The sutra library at the rear. There is a huge convocation going on, with all kinds of monks in attendance (Tibetan and Chinese traditions, and even one guy in Daoist garb), to chant for the souls of the dead, as it's time for the "Ghost Festival." But the rain had driven them to shelter, and they were chanting under the eaves.

(9) I caught this little monk with my telephoto. I wonder what the story is here. (The "noise" in the picture is falling rain; the people in the background are circumambulating the stupa.)

(10) Had I approached from the front, instead of from up the mountain, this is the view that would have greeted me. It was nearly sundown, and raining, so the scene is blessedly empty but a bit dark.

(11) It was getting dark (and cold) when I visited Tayuan Temple last night, so there were a few things I didn't see. Since it was nearby, I went back this afternoon. I won't show you all the things I re-shot in better light (well, just a couple). First, the outside of the stupa itself...

(12) ...and another look at the base.

(13) And now some interesting things I missed yesterday. Apparently, Mao slept here! On April 9, 1948, to be exact, while "passing by," as the sign says. This is the room where he slept.

(14) Inside is a statue with--can you believe it?--a prayer cushion in front.

(15) A little further east is this "hair stupa." There's a great story about this. In short, an old lady had offered her hair--all she had--at an event where donations were exchanged for a meal. She had with her a child, an infant, and a dog, and she herself was pregnant. When she asked for five meals (one for each, including the unborn child and the dog), the monk in charge got angry and threw her out. She then changed into Manjushri (of course) and scolded him for his lack of insight before flying away. It's said that when some looked at the hair, they saw old, matted hair; but others saw strands of gold. This stupa was built to hold the hair.

(16) This is the front of the Sutra Repository, which I showed you (in much worse light) yesterday, with dozens of monks sitting in front of it.

(17) Inside is an amazing thing, which it was too dark to shoot yesterday: This is a revolving book case (now holding Buddha statues instead of sutras). I've seen these before, notably at Hase Kannon in Kamakura, Japan, but never one of this height. If you walk around and turn it (now impossible, with the furniture around it), it's like praying all the sutras in it--like spinning prayer wheels.

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