No. 98: Zhiyuan Temple, Jiuhuashan, Anhui

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on June 2, 2014.)

This "Jade" (玉, but perhaps plastic) image of Dizang
(Kshitigarbha Bodhisattva=地藏菩萨) sits in a rear hall at
Zhiyuan Temple (祗园寺) on Jiuhuashan, Anhui (安徽, 九华山).

June 24, 2012 - I started my last day on Jiuhua Mountain by walking down to Zhiyuan Temple, located near the entry gate to the Scenic Area in which I had been staying.

Zhiyuan is the Chinese transliteration for Jetavana Grove, the name of the second monastery founded by the historic Buddha in India, and--according to tradition--the one where he gave most of his teaching.

Jiuhua's "Jetavana" was built in the Ming Dynasty, and is one of the four largest temples on the mountain, though its location between the mountainside and the tiny Jiuhua Stream--which forms the valley through which the road runs--makes it feel quite cramped.

The buildings are old, and the some of the statuary is truly antique. The three Buddhas on the main altar are impressive, and I was especially intrigued by an old representation of Guanyin, the Bodhisattva of compassion.

Ordinarily, she (or he) is shown with an image of the Buddha Amitabha in her tiara, symbolizing her status as an emanation of that Buddha. But here, the figure of Amitabha rises up sitting on a cloud, almost like the thought bubble in a cartoon. The figure also has numerous arms, indicating the idea of the "Guanyin with a Thousand Arms."

Elsewhere in the temple are ten bas reliefs showing the judges of hell sentencing wrongdoers to torment. In an upstairs reception room, there is a round doorway in an intricately constructed wooden screen, framing a statue of Dizang, Jiuhua's patron.

After soaking up Zhiyuan Temple's atmosphere, I caught a bus down to the last Jiuhua temple on my list.



GPS Info:
  • 30.48044, 117.80484



Map:

(Regarding problems with this map, please see the CHINA section on this page.)



GALLERY

More pictures can be found here.

The cramped courtyard between the entry (left) and main hall (right) at Zhiyuan Temple
The main altar at the temple features exquisite old Buddha statues
An antique statue of Guanyin has the Amitabha Buddha emanating from her head
Ten bas reliefs (five on a side) depict the torments of hell
This wooden screen in an upstairs reception room frames a statue of Dizang
Zhiyuan Temple stands beside the main gate to the Jiuhua Shan Scenic Area



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