Lion Crag and Zhaoyin Temple,
Shaoguan, Guangdong
(July 25, 2012)

(1) Here are the "Maba Men" just inside the gate of the Maba Man Park, site of Lion's Crag and Zhaoyin Temple.

The so-called "Lion Crag" is actually two large rock formations said to resemble a lion's head and tail. In 1958, parts of a skull were found in caves in the "tail," representing a hominid believed to be comparable to the European Neanderthal. He has been dubbed "Maba Man" after the nearby town.

(2) A small museum inside the park honors Zhang Jiuling (673–740), a Tang-Dynasty government official and poet who was born in the area. There was also a Maba Man Museum, but with limited time (and that not being my goal) I skipped it.

(3) The lion's "tail" (I think), inside which Maba Man's head parts were found.

(4) Entry to the cave. Note that all Maba Man statues are speculative; they don't even know if he was a "man"!

(5) Apparently Maba Woman enjoyed singing to fish?

(6) On my way to the "head," site of Zhaoyin Temple. Scholar Kees Kuiken writes, "At an unknown date, a Buddhist monastery named Zhaoyin 招隱 Abbey was built inside the caves of Lion's Head. This cave monastery went into disrepair during the 1920s and was overlooked by Xuyun's restoration campaign of the 1930s. It was rebuilt in 1986 as part of the Lion's Crag Tourist Site; in the main cave is a life-size statue of Huineng." Kuiken believes Huineng lived and studied here, and that this may be his original seat, not Nanhua Temple, as it fits the geographical description better.

(7) After circling halfway around the "crag," I found the stairs that lead up to the temple. Its roof can just be seen in the large overhang.

(8) The stairs approaching the temple

(9) The "balcony"

(10) A wide view of the cave. The statue of Huineng is in the "box" at the back.

(11) Looking toward the front of the cave (sorry about the back-lighting). You can see how a wall was built across the opening to give the feeling of being in a hall.

(12) Can you see the flat spot with a small sign left of center? It says "Chan (Zen) Stone." It would have a view across the valley; what a seat for meditation!

(13) These stairs descend to a brick wall on the left side of the cave. I wondered what they were for.

(14) On my way up, I had seen this door; descending, I decided (on a hunch) to take a look inside.

(15) Inside is a large chamber (bigger than any temple hall I've been in), with these stairs leading up to--a brick wall! I think this must have been a former entry to the temple. It was creepy; I saw no one the whole time I was on (or in) the lions "head."

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Last Updated August 18, 2019

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