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Friday, June 22, 2012

No. 93: Roushen Dian, Jiuhuashan, Anhui

The Flesh Body Pagoda (肉身塔) at Roushendian (肉身殿) on Jiuhuashan, Anhui (安徽, 九华山),
is said to hold the uncorrupted body of the Korean monk named Jin Qiaojue (金乔觉),
who was supposed to be the rebirth of Dizang (Kshitigarbha Bodhisattva=地藏菩萨).
A short climb up the hill behind my hotel brought me to Roushen Hall, one of the creepier stops on my pilgrimage.

Remember the Korean monk Jin Qiaojue whose practice led people to consider him the reincarnation of Dizang, the Bodhisattva who would save all beings from the six levels of hell?

It was said that three years after his death in 794CE, his body was discovered to be uncorrupted. To believers, this confirmed his status as a bodhisattva.

His body was placed in a pagoda inside a hall at a temple called Roushen Dian, or the "Corporeal Body Hall." (That first character, rou, is more commonly translated "flesh" or "meat.")

The body cannot be seen. In fact the hall was destroyed in the Taiping Rebellion in 1857, leaving some doubt as to the status of the body itself. But the pagoda is there to remind the faithful of this austere monk.

Behind and below the hall is another, no less creepy but a lot more fun. The Dizang Hall has statues of the bodhisattva and his attendants, surrounded by folk statues. These include the two generals Xie and Fan (one black, the other white), who "arrest" the departing soul and take it to Hell; "Horse Face" and "Cow Head," the jailers who hold the soul for trial; and the Ten Judges of Hell (flashier than the more sedate ones upstairs), who try the soul of the departed.

Other figures in this hall include the Buddha and his attendants, and a huge number of figures beyond my ability to identify.

After this visit to the borders of Hell, I moved on down the mountain for some less macabre encounters.

(An edited version of this article was published in the Shenzhen Daily April 28, 2014.)

GPS Info:
  • 30.47653, 117.79665



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GALLERY

The Main Hall at Roushen Dian has a pagoda allegedly holding the uncorrupted body of Korean monk Jin Qiaojue
This pagoda allegedly holds Jin Qiaojue's uncorrupted body (similar postcard above)
Close-up of statues at the base of the pagoda
Some of the "Judges of Hell" in the Main Hall
Amitabha Buddha (with numerous attendants) is one of many folk figures in the downstairs hall

There are 10 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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