Guanyin Gucha, Jilin, Jilin
(August 26, 2011)

(1) On to Guanyin Gucha in Jilin City, Jilin. This imposing gateway is misleading: behind it is a very small compound. The name of this place is quite interesting, by the way. Most Buddhist temples are named "si" (寺), from an old word for government offices (where the earliest monks from India were first housed). Others may be called "an" (庵), originally a hut but now used to mean "nunnery," or sometimes "yuan" (院), a courtyard or enclosure. But this one uses a really old word, "cha" (刹), from "cha duo luo" (剎多羅) a transliteration of the Sanskrit word "kshetra," meaning "a field." Cool, huh? (At least for Buddhist language geeks.) PS The "gu" (古) in the name means "old."

(2) Guanyin Gucha (naturally) also has a big Guanyin. Her head nearly touches the hip of the hall's roof! She's at the right end (another, smaller, seated Guanyin is on the altar--unusual, as main halls usually have Buddhas on the main altar). This shot would have been tough, as the hall was closed, but a kind lady devotee offered to let me in.

(3) Devotees are cleaning and renovating the sutra repository (scripture library). As I finished my devotions, they were using the nearby kettles, in front of the large censer, to burn unwanted papers, including some posters and other discards. These kettles are sometimes used unofficially to burn "grave goods" for the dead, a practice some Buddhist leaders frown on.

(4) Roof figures; the dogs are unusual.

(5) I've seen this on the roofs of a few temples now; it looks like a dagger (on the upper left) driven in near a dragon or fish. Can anyone comment on the presence of the dagger?

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Last Updated August 6, 2019

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