Nangshan Cishou Temple
Putian, Fujian
(October 28, 2011)

(1) As the taxi approached this temple, I feared that the lofty group of white buildings perched on the mountainside might have been my destination, Nangshan Cishou Temple in Putian. I believe that is a temple, but thank goodness it wasn't my target, because I couldn't see a road leading up to it.

It seemed like the temple was going to be far away from the city. I was planning, then, to try to get there by bus. At the last minute I though, "I've been avoiding taxis; why not splurge?" So I did, and guess what? It was 50rmb, less than the taxi fare to our regular weekly veg dinner! In no time at all (with the help of the driver's GPS) I was at the temple's gate. My main impressions here were (a) stunning location, and (b) lots of construction going on.

(2) This old gate building will probably be refurbished or demolished; in this shot you can see some of the mountain that lies behind the temple.

(3) This building will probably be the new Mountain Gate.

(4) This is the Heavenly Kings' Hall. Note the mountain behind.

(5) A close-up of the Heavenly Kings' Hall under construction.

(6) The interior of the Heavenly Kings' Hall. For a moment, I stood in the approximate location of the future Laughing Buddha statue, and pretended I was he.

(7) This panel will be placed on the exterior of the Heavenly Kings' Hall. I'm guessing those tiles will, too.

(8) The Main Hall from just behind the Heavenly Kings' Hall.

(9) These statues of Qielan/Guanyu in various forms look more Taoist than Buddhist. (Of course, he started his career as a Taoist deity, before the Buddhists stole him...)

(10) The Benz is just outside the Qielan Hall, I guess in case he needs to make a fast escape.

(11) Here's how the workers get inside the rafters over a new corridor.

(12) Remember the temple with the jumbled furniture in front of the main hall yesterday? I think I figured it out. There are lots of altars and whatnot here; if you were cleaning the pavement, you might push them up against the door grilles temporarily.

(13) Most temples undergoing reconstruction (and the fund-raising that goes with it) have somewhat optimistic drawings like these posted somewhere in the temple, printed in their brochures, etc.

(14) This painting on tile is on the back of the Main Hall. It's one of four showing key turning points in the Buddha's life: his birth, departure from home, enlightenment, and death. Notice the presence of the Four Heavenly Kings at his birth? That's because the four kings are based on Hindu gods, who are said to have attended his appearance. (They show up again at his escape, muffling the horse's hoofs.) Anyway, I was struck by how much this resembles the Christian iconography of the so-called "Three Kings."

(15) There's something in this shot that makes me think of Medieval or Renaissance art. Cathedral workers, maybe?

(16) This wise guy laborer greeted me with "Hello, thank you" and struck a pose. What could I do? I shot him.

(17) This is the new Guanyin Hall being built at the top of the property. It's mostly finished, but you can see that the door frames and grilles haven't been painted.

(18) Inside, the statues have been primed but not painted. History in the making.

(19) Talk about history: I'd love to own an old statue like this one.

(20) Back down below, there's a new Three Sages Hall being built to the east of the main gate. Most of the exterior appears finished, but...

(21) ...the signboards have been carved, but not painted. This one rests in front of some of the "10,000 Buddhas" that line the walls of the hall.

(22) The statues inside appear ready for their unveiling...

(23) ...but much of the interior detail remains to be completed. This woman is one of three I saw working inside.

(24) Here's a closeup of what she's doing.

(25) When you see all the detail on a building like this, remember that almost all of that was done by hand, stroke by stroke.

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Last Updated August 8, 2019

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