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The Magical China Trip 2012

Sights of Hangzhou

CHINA | Tuesday, 9 October 2012 | Views [3369]

In Hangzhou, I visited the Southern Song Dynasty Guan Kiln Museum, a Tea Museum and Plantation, the Lingyin Temple, and Museum of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  To be honest, only the latter two were of particular note, although the kiln was interesting.  I was not allowed to take pictures there, but I did find one on the Internet of the exact kiln we saw at the Southern Song Dynasty Guan Kiln Museum.  I have placed in the Hangzhou Picture Gallery.


Lingyin Temple:

The uniqueness and beauty of the Lingyin Temple (灵隐寺, pronounced ling yin ssuh) was in great contrast to the other sights.  This place is like an art gallery in stone in the wild.  I was deeply impressed by the attention to detail and thought a great deal about the prayers that went into the carvings there.  The temple's name is commonly literally translated as Temple of the Soul's Retreat.  It is one of the largest and wealthiest Buddhist temples in China, and contains numerous pagodas and Buddhist grottoes.


The monastery was founded in 328 AD during the Eastern Jin Dynasty by a monk who came from India.  From its inception, Lingyin was famous.  At its peak under the Kingdom of Wuyue (907-978), the temple boasted 9 multi-story buildings, 18 pavilions, 72 halls, more than 1300 dormitory rooms, and was inhabited by more than 3000 monks.


However, its prominence did not save the temple from raiders.  It has been rebuilt no less than sixteen times.  The current buildings are modern restorations of late Qing buildings.  During the Cultural Revolution, the temple and grounds suffered some damage at the hands of Red Guards.  However, they escaped large-scale destruction partly because of the protection of Premier Zhou Enlai.  Today the temple is thriving as a destination for both pilgrims and tourists.


The figures are carved into the walls of caves, on the sides of granite outcroppings, and in niches, either natural or created.  Everywhere one turns, a new figure presents itself.  Often the carving was done seemingly in the dark, for the caves are dark today.  I don’t know what light source was used.  It is an eerily striking and sacred place for those who can feel it.


The Museum of Traditional Chinese Medicine:

This was fascinating, but over my head.  Kanaychowa, it is right up your alley.  I took pictures of I know not what.  I have put just a few in the Hangzhou Gallery.  Have at ‘em.

Tags: chinese traditional medicine, lingyin temple

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