No. 109: Nengren Temple, Jiujiang, Jiangxi

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on October 13, 2014.)

The Stone Boat at Nengren Temple (能仁寺) in Jiujiang, Jiangxi (江西, 九江市),
is said once to have carried a celestial being down the Yangtze from the West.

August 8, 2012 - One of my favorite things about visiting temples is seeing objects with stories attached. Nengren (perhaps "Benevolence") Temple in Jiujiang had several that made my visit more illuminating. I had first read about these in Carl F. Kupfer's Sacred Places in China (1911).

In all, the temple is said to have a lucky eight "charming sites" on its grounds. Here are a few of them.

The first is the bridge in front of the main hall. Called the "Twin Sun Bridge," it's said that when conditions are right, a doubled reflection of the sun can be seen through its arches. Alas, I was there on a rainy day!

Next is the Stone Pierced by Raindrops. This carved piece of granite used to sit under the corner of a roof eave. The constant drip of rainwater over the centuries has drilled a hole in the stone, signifying the importance of slow, steady effort in overcoming problems.

But to me, the best story is that of the Stone Boat and the Iron Buddha. It's said that back in the Song Dynasty, a monk had a dream that a celestial figure would be coming down the Yangzi River from the west, and that his miraculous powers would be displayed as he floated in a stone boat.

And so it came to pass. Then an iron statue of the figure was cast, and set in the boat in the temple's yard.

What we see today are replicas; many of the temple's older treasures were destroyed in the Taiping Rebellion. The Iron Buddha was lost at that time; found afterward; and later destroyed again. A concrete version now sits in a new-looking stone boat, reminding us of the story.

GPS Info:
  • 29.72179, 115.9951


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


More pictures can be found here.

The "Twin Sun Bridge" in front of the main hall at Nengren Temple

The Stone Pierced by Raindrops teaches a lesson about perseverance.

A concrete Buddha in a stone boat reminds us of an ancient story

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