Shang Huayan Temple, Datong, Shanxi
(August 22, 2012)

(1) Shang Huayan Temple in Datong was the 119th temple I visted on my list. A portion of the ticket seems to portray Guanyin praying to a bottle of alcohol. What's a booze ad doing on a temple's ticket, anyway? (And an 80rmb ticket, I might add--pricey!)

(2) When I got inside, everything seemed big and new--like this main hall.

(3) The figures inside were shiny, not at all what I expected.

(4) These, in the Medicine Buddha Hall, were much the same.

(5) The Pu Xian was better--at least he was wood, and not shiny--but still new and big.

(6) Likewise with the Wen Shu; both he and Pu Xian were in their own big halls.

(7) Then I solved the mystery: This colossal new project was surrounding the old Shang and Xia (Upper and Lower) Huayan Temples. The ancient and gorgeous fabric was intact. Just look at the woodwork on this old bell tower.

(8) Even though a new statue of Shakyamuni was placed in this hall, the old painting is still on the timbers.

(9) This ancient trough sits in the courtyard; as I prepared to shoot it, a dove alighted to drink. (Later, as I did my prayers here, I saw several other birds come to imbibe.)

(10) Another good example of the old painting.

(11) This is the main hall, dating to the Liao Dynasty (907–1125). It's considered one of the oldest and largest intact main halls in China, and much is made of the fact that it (like the entire temple) faces east, instead of south as usual. (View is from the pagoda next store.)

(12) The Buddhas of the Five Directions in the main hall. They were magnificent, but as "no photos were allowed," I barely got in a few shots before I was stopped.

(13) Some of the 20 gods flanking the Buddhas and leaning in as if listening.

(14) Next to Upper Huayan Temple is Lower Huayan Temple, originally designed to house sutras (scriptures). This newish pagoda is a centerpiece.

(15) The basement of the pagoda houses a typical "palace" to enshrine...

(16) ...yet another relic of the Buddha. Here, photos were allowed, and even encouraged.

(17) Elsewhere in the Lower Temple is this statue of Guanyin (the one worshiping the hooch above). Funny thing: the guard in the Upper Temple's main hall--which has some of the most gorgeous ancient statuary I've ever seen--told me that this slim, new statue was the "best beautiful" in the temple! He's become inured to the beauty around him.

(18) Before the main hall of the Lower Temple are two side halls, each housing eight in a new and well-done set of 16 arhats. Here are some of them.

(19) I like his attitude!

(20) I wonder what they're talking about.

(21) In the main hall a jumble of truly ancient statues reminded me of scenes I've seen in Japan. When I review my notes, I may discover that this is the largest, oldest collection of statuary I've seen.

(22) Progress never comes without a price: The area around the temple is being demolished to make way for even more colossal undertakings.

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Last Updated August 21, 2019

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