Leshan Giant Buddha in China

Tuesday, 30 November 2021 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General
Reading Time:  7 minutes

© Ariel Steiner/cc-by-sa-2.5

© Ariel Steiner/cc-by-sa-2.5

The Leshan Giant Buddha is a 71-metre (233 ft) tall stone statue, built between 713 and 803 (during the Tang dynasty. It is carved out of a cliff face of Cretaceous red bed sandstones that lies at the confluence of the Min River and Dadu River in the southern part of Sichuan province in China, near the city of Leshan. The stone sculpture faces Mount Emei, with the rivers flowing below its feet. It is the largest and tallest stone Buddha statue in the world and it is by far the tallest pre-modern statue in the world. The Mount Emei Scenic Area, including Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area, has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.

The Leshan Giant Buddha is located at the Lingyun Mountain’s Qifeng Peak. Qifeng Peak is located at the junction of the Minjiang River, Qingyi River, and Dadu River. Other than the Leshan Giant Buddha, the Danxia Landform also contains abundant history and cultural connotations, such as cliff tombs and cliff dwelling. The Mahao Cliff Tombs at the Leshan Giant Buddha scenic area were built in the Han Dynasty, indicating ancient local residents’ living habits.

After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the Leshan Giant Buddha was designated as a cultural relic and put under protection by the Sichuan Provincial People’s Committee in 1956. In 1996, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee included the Leshan Giant Buddha in the World Cultural and Natural Heritage List. In 1998, the Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area Management Committee was formally established. The management committee’s scope of control reached 17.88 square kilometers. In 2008, the Mount Emei – Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area Management Committee was formally established, with the main task of developing tourism resources for Mount Emei and the Leshan Giant Buddha. On March 24, 2002, the first phase of the Leshan Giant Buddha repair project by the World Bank officially started. The project included completely renovating the Buddha from chest up to the head and then strengthening the rock wall. On June 23, 2002, the second phase of the Leshan Giant Buddha Maintenance Project started. During this phase, the rocks at the Buddha’s feet were repaired and the eroded part of the rock below water level was repaired.

© panoramio.com - jetsun/cc-by-sa-3.0 © panoramio.com - jetsun/cc-by-sa-3.0 © panoramio.com - jetsun/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Ariel Steiner/cc-by-sa-2.5 © flickr.com - kevinmcgill/cc-by-sa-2.0 © panoramio.com - lienyuan lee/cc-by-3.0 Path winding up to the statue © Karalyn Monteil/cc-by-sa-3.0-igo
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Path winding up to the statue © Karalyn Monteil/cc-by-sa-3.0-igo
At 71 metres (233 ft) tall, the statue depicts a seated Buddha with his hands resting on his knees. His shoulders are 28 metres wide and his smallest toenail is large enough to easily accommodate a seated person. There is a local saying: “The mountain is a Buddha and the Buddha is a mountain”. This is partially because the mountain range in which the Leshan Giant Buddha is located is thought to be shaped like a slumbering Buddha when seen from the river, with the Leshan Giant Buddha as its heart. This 71-meters (233 ft) statue, carved in the Lingyun Mountain, is the biggest and tallest stone Buddha statue in the world (only the modern Great Buddha of Thailand, made of concrete, is taller). Leshan Giant Buddha’s hair is composed of 1,021 spiraled curls embedded in his head that measures 14.7 meters (48 ft) in height and 10 meters (33 ft) in width. His ears, capable of holding two people inside, are 7-meters (23 ft) long. He has 5.6-meter (18 ft) long eyebrows, 8.3 meters (27 ft) long fingers, 24 meters (79 ft) wide shoulders, and a 5.6-meter (18 ft) long nose. His mouth and each of his eyes have a width of 3.3 meters (11 ft). His instep that is around 8.5 meters (28 ft) in width can hold about a hundred people and his smallest toenail can fit one seated person. This statue is ten stories high, which can be compared to the size of the Statue of Liberty if Buddha stood upright. Buddha’s body is placed in a symmetrical posture and the proportions of his various body parts are proportioned in accordance with the Buddharupa requirements of a statue. It has a calm form, which conforms to the Tang Dynasty statues’ style.

Being one of the six world cultural heritage sites in the Province of Sichuan, it receives a lot of tourist visits. From 2001-2003, it was ranked the second most popular attraction amongst the provincial heritage sites with 1.4 to 1.5 million visitors per year. In 2004, there was a breakthrough which led the numbers to drastically go up to 2.1 million visitors. From 2005-2007, it had around 2.3 to 2.8 million visitors per year, which was more than all the other sites. The most convenient way to get to the Giant Buddha from Leshan Town is through the local bus 13. Upon arrival, it is necessary to purchase a ticket at the price of CNY 90 per person (including Wulong Temple & Mahao Cliff Tomb). The opening hours are 7:30am-6:30pm from April until October and 8:00am-5:30pm from October until March. The weekends and holidays are much busier compared to weekdays. Apart from the main attraction, there are dozens of pathways throughout the mountain that can be explored by foot. People come from all over the world to worship Maitreya. To get a close-up view of him, there is a pedestrian pathway that allows visitors to appreciate the changing view of Buddha’s body through multiple perspectives. It is important to note that the plank pathways there are steep and narrow. To get a more panoramic view of him, there are sightseeing boats available at the price of CNY 70 per person. Since these boats have a capacity of 35 passengers, there may be a waiting line.

Read more on UNESCO.org – Mount Emei Scenic Area, including Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area and Wikipedia Leshan Giant Buddha (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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