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Friday, October 28, 2011

No. 77: Nangshan Cishou Temple, Putian, Fujian

This new hall (殿) at Nangshan Cishou Temple (囊山慈寿寺) in Putian, Fujian (福建, 莆田市), shows a very
high standard of workmanship. Note the open doorways, where the doors haven't yet been installed.
My only full day in the city of Putian, across the straits from Taiwan, would be a busy one. I hoped to see three temples in the day; but as all were located in or near the city (none were in the far-off mountains) I was pretty sure I could do it.

Following my practice of visiting the farthest temple first, I took a taxi the 15 kilometers or so north to Cishou ("Compassionate Life") Temple. The temple was beautifully situated on a mountainside, but there was a huge amount of construction going on. I'm sure by now it's magnificent, as this was two years ago today (two-and-a-half as I edit this for the website).

Passing through an older gate, I immediately encountered a newer one, as well as a new Three Sages Hall off to the side. The main compound, including the Main Hall, seemed to be original; but a shiny new Guanyin Hall and side halls were being built behind it.

The old compound itself was quiet as a church (except for the construction racket). The statuary halls included fine representations of Guanyu, a hero from "The Romance of the Three Kingdoms," and local ancestral monks. In the main hall were the usual Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Arhats.

But watching the work on the Guanyin compound behind was a real treat. The workmen were using hand tools, giving the feeling of medieval cathedral construction to the whole process.

Moving back down the hillside, I went into the unfinished Three Sages Hall, where two women were hand-painting the intricate décor on the walls.

Even though my visit was "disrupted" by this activity, I was left with a sense of amazement at the vast hours of delicate labor that go into the creation of these monuments.

(An edited version of this article was published in the Shenzhen Daily October 28, 2013.)

GPS Info:
  • 25.50352, 119.13543



Map:


(This seems like the wrong name, but you'll see the right one as you zoom in.)



GALLERY

The old Mountain Gate, perhaps gone by now
The new Heavenly Kings' Hall
The "original" main hall of the temple
Workers build new halls with old techniques
The ornate new Guanyin Hall (another view in postcard above)
The shiny new Three Sages Hall
A worker applies paint to a new pillar in the Three Sages Hall

There are 25 pictures related to this temple (some of them identical to these, but with different captions) in a FaceBook album starting here (available to all, even without a FaceBook account).

Click here to visit the next article in chronological order || Click here to view the trip details

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