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Monday, August 31, 2009

No. 14: Guangren Temple, Xi'an, Shaanxi

My first temple in Xi'an, Shaanxi (陕西, 西安市), was Guangren Temple
(广仁寺), built in Tibetan style, with these stupas out front.
Nestled inside the northwest corner of the ancient city walls of Xi'an is the little-visited Guangren Si (The Temple for Spreading Benevolence). It's a small but full-blown Tibetan-style temple, with maroon walls, white stupas, prayer wheels, multicolored pennants flapping in the wind, and lamas in typical maroon robes with yellow undergarments.

The monastery was built in 1703 as a way station for high-level lamas traveling along the Silk Road between China's northwest and the capital in Beijing. It was fully restored in 1952, and was again upgraded and expanded in 2006.

Many of the statues are in the Tibetan style, including one of Tsongkhapa (1357–1419), founder of the Gelug-pa or Yellow Hat sect of lamas. Others include the Green Tara, a female Buddha known as the "mother of liberation"; and Tibetan versions of more familiar Chinese characters like Guanyin and Cai Shen, the God (or in this temple, "Buddha") of Wealth.

Also honored in the temple are two Chinese women. One, Wang Zhaojun, is known as one of the "Four Great Beauties" of China. She was sent along the Silk Road to marry the chief of the Xiongnu (perhaps what we call "Huns") in China's far west.

The other is Princess Wencheng, niece of Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty, who married a Tibetan leader in 640. Tradition says that she and the leader's other wife, from Nepal, introduced Buddhism to the Tibetan region.

Easily lost among Xi'an's more spectacular sights, this cozy temple was an unexpected and pleasurable find.

(An edited version of this article was published in the Shenzhen Daily April 2, 2012.)

GPS Info:
  • 34.274023, 108.925733



Map:




GALLERY

The main gate at Guangren Temple with white stupas and colorful pennants
A Thousand-Armed Guanyin with Tibetan-style features
In the main hall is this Green Tara, a Tibetan female Buddha
Tibetan prayer wheels grace the front of this small hall
The great teacher Tsongkapa sits in a Thousand-Buddha Hall
The "Buddha of Wealth," Tibetan-style

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