No. 15: Wolong Temple,
Xi'an, Shaanxi

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on April 9, 2012.)

When we went to Wolong Temple (卧龙寺) in Xi'an, Shaanxi(陕西, 西安市),
we discovered that all of the figures in the main hall (大雄宝殿),
including the 24 Deva Kings (天王), were new and still being finished.
August 31, 2009 - Leaving Guangren Temple, my wife and I took a couple of local buses to the only other Key Temple located inside Xi'an's city walls.

Wolong Temple is a short walk from Xi'an's main South Gate: east down the "Academy Alley" and past the Stele Forest Museum, near the Wenchang Gate.

Said to be founded over 1800 years ago in the Han Dynasty, it was called Fuying Temple in the Sui, and Guanyin Temple in the Tang, after a notable drawing of the Bodhisattva of Compassion was housed there.

It wasn't until the Song Dynasty that it acquired its current name. At that time, a monk of some renown named Weiguo dwelt in the temple. He called himself "Wolong," or "Sleeping Dragon"; when people began to refer to the place by his name, it stuck.

Once one of the leading monasteries of the city, it reached its peak in the Qing Dynasty, only to be largely destroyed in the Republican Period. Rebuilt on a more modest scale, it's now a relatively sleepy place (compared to other attractions inside walls); we visited on two different summer days, once in the evening and again in the morning, and never had to fight crowds.

One major attraction for me was watching workmen paint the 24 Deva Kings newly-installed in the main hall. Many of these figures are from Indian tradition, including the gods Brahma and Indra. Although not exactly rare, a set like this is not all that common, and it was exciting to be there for a slice of history. A triad of Shakyamuni Buddha with two bodhisattvas had also recently been placed on the main altar.
GPS Info:
  • 34.254082, 108.954924



Wolong Temple's Mountain Gate
A fierce figure of General Ha at the temple
Newly-placed statues of the 24 Deva Kings in the Main Hall
Workmen put finishing touches on some of the 24 Deva Kings (postcard above)
The new figures on the main altar are still unpainted
The last building (Dharma Hall) is adorned with lush late-summer growth

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