Tangwai journeys to see the Buddha

February 24, 2012

Quote of the Day: “Was it cold on top of Leshan Mountain?” ~one of the English Teachers at Tangwai. (Leshan Mountian is about 300 feet high…)

Today the Tangwai groups had the opportunity to travel to the city of Leshan (Happy Mountain) about two hours south from Chengdu. On our way we stopped at a museum that discussed how ebony is formed and had a large number of ebony carvings. The center pieces of the museum were four carvings depicting the stories of the four major novels of Chinese history. Each of the four pieces took more that 80 artisans 3 years to carve. Each one is worth 80 million RMB (about $12.7 million) because of the labor, the quality of the work and the value of the ebony to begin with. (sorry about the quality of the shot)

Attached to the ebony museum was a Hall of 500 Arhats (a collection of celebrated Buddhists who have transcended the everyday world) and a Hall of the Celestial Generals (60 General-gods who are in charge of protecting born in each year of the Zodiac.) Each of these nearly life sized statues close to 600 are carved out of ebony.

Ben with General Guojia guardian of the Fire Rats, the zodiac symbol for the year he was born.

After the Ebony Museum and a quick lunch of some simple, family style Chinese food, we began our “hike” to see the Leshan Giant Buddha. I use quotation marks around hike, because the mountain path (as with every famous mountain I have been to in China) was stairs. Lots of stairs. Lots and lots and lots and LOTS of stairs.

(A small sampling of some of the stairs we climbed today…)

Along the hike up there were a multitude of small carvings in the rock. Rose decided to imitate a Dragon carved above a pool.











We soon arrived at the main event: the Leshan Giant Buddha. The Leshan Buddha is the largest in the world. It is  71 meters tall (233 ft.) and was carved over a period of 70 years starting in 731 AD. It is a massive statue and the by far the tallest example of pre-modern statue in the world. It was carved directly out of the face of a sandstone cliff and an ingenious system was devised to prevent the soft stone from eroding due to rain other water flow. The Buddha has lasted almost 1300 years is near perfect condition.

If you look carefully you can see Jameson’s orange jacket, Bo’s black jacket and Hunter’s blond hair just above the Buddha’s eye level.

From the bottom looking up…

… and looking down. (“I *am* flying… and from way up here you all look like little ants” Bonus points if you can name that quote!)

After seeing the Buddha we also went to see a temple by his head. On the way, Hunter stopped for a bit of meditation.

The students take a break to rest in the temple and hear our tour guide give some more information about Buddhism.

And finally we ended by going to visit a pagoda at the top of the mountain (slightly higher than the Buddhas head.)

Aiden is taking a short break and leaning against the tower.

After the hike we hopped back in our bus and headed back to Tangwai where the host students took their Gouldies home for the weekend. We said goodbye until Monday morning when we will meet up with many stories to share of weekend adventures. I probably won’t post over the weekend, although I may do one post on Sunday to give you an idea of what Becky and I have done over the weekend and some of the things your students may have done. But for now I will leave you with two pictures from the Sichaun Opera performance that Becky and I went to see this evening.









Picture one: A wife punishes her husband for going out to play mahjong with his friends by making him balance a lit oil lamp on his head and dance and do silly tricks to entertain her. (In Sichuan the women are “spicy” and generally hold the power in relationships.)

Picture two: The famous face changing performers whose masks change with the blink of an eye.



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