No. 128: Xiantong Temple, Wutai Shan, Shanxi

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on April 20, 2015.)

The Bronze Hall is near the rear of Xiantong Temple (显通寺), Wutai Shan,
Shanxi (山西, 五台山). The inside is lined with small bronze Buddhas.

August 27, 2012 - It had been a long day already, with visits to five temples finished but two to go, both of them down the hill from Pusa Ding.

Xiantong (something like "Obvious Skill") Temple is one of China's oldest, dating to the first century CE, but today's buildings are mainly Ming and Qing. It is also supposed to be the largest on the mountain. I passed hall after hall of the some 400 (seven on the main axis) in my trudge toward one of the temple's foremost attractions, its Bronze Hall.

But what sights along the way! As it was getting toward evening, there were chanting services in some of the halls. I paused to listen, and would try to get back before the doors were closed for a closer look at the interiors.

One of the other showpieces of the place is its so-called "Beamless Hall," a building made of brick with barrel-vaulting. I've seen a few before, but this had to be the largest of them all, standing 20 meters high, with a 16 by 28 meter footprint. It's dedicated to the Amitabha Buddha, an enormous statue of whom stands inside.

Also inside was a collection of new figures--perhaps the 500 Arhats?--waiting to be placed. They looked quite amusing (and a little creepy) lined up in various alcoves throughout the building.

At last I reached the temple's greatest claim to fame. The spectacular Bronze Hall is one of only three in all of China. Built in the Ming Dynasty, its interior is lined with thousands of bronze figures of Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom. The pagodas that stand before it are bronze as well.

Alas, it had started to rain. I'd have to hurry to see my last temple before the deluge.

GPS Info:
  • 39.00965, 113.59648


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


More pictures can be found here.

The intricate roof on the Buddha Hall at Xiantong Temple

The front of the masonry "Beamless Hall"

New statues sit whimsically inside the Beamless Hall.

The famous Bronze Hall and pagodas

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