Bamboo Temple (Qiongzhu Si), Kunming

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Qiongzhu Temple, or Bamboo Temple, is a Buddhist temple situated on Yu'an Mountain to the northwest of Kunming, Yunnan, China. The name of the temple (Qiongzhu) refers to a type of bamboo (genus Qiongzhuea). The Bamboo Temple was established during the Yuan dynasty as the first temple dedicated to Zen Buddhism in Yunnan. It has since been burned down and reconstructed several times. The present structure mostly dates from the late Qing dynasty.ArtworkThe temple is most renowned for the painted clay sculptures of the 500 Buddhist arhats. The sculptures which are known as the "sculptured pearls in the oriental treasure-house" were created during the reign of the Guangxu Emperor (r. 1875–1908) in the Qing dynasty, when the temple was undergoing major repairs. Li Guangxiu ((1883–1890) to create the sculptures.The arhat sculptures are distributed over three buildings: 216 each are in the Fanyin Pavilion and the Tiantailai Pavilion, 68 are housed in the temple's main hall, the Daxiong Hall. In the Fanyin Pavilion and the Tiantailai Pavilions, the arhat sculptures stand beside a central Buddha sculpture in six rows, with three levels in each row. Each arhat is about one meter tall and is characterized by unique facial expressions and body gesture. This is a radical break from the usual fixed style of Buddhist sculptures. Through the use of exaggeration, the artists created lively images. Some arhats are reaching for the moon with extremely long arms, some are crossing the ocean on extra long legs. There are bare-footed monks and naked-bellied Buddhas. Some are lost in deep thought, some are telling each other good news. Some are tranquil, some angry, some surprised, some curious. One is scratching his back, another is poking his ear.
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Bamboo Temple (Qiongzhu Si) Reviews
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  • This is a nice relaxing temple with some good sculptures. Worth a visit but public transport is a bit scarce if you don't read Chinese  more »
  • The Qióngzhú Temple is located 12 km northwest of Kunming on yu'an Mountain. The temple's name refers to a type of bamboo for this is more generally known as "Bamboo Temple". Around the building of this temple there are many legends. The Bamboo Temple dates back to the Song dynasty, but it was with the Yuan dynasty (CA. 1280) that the temple has become an important Buddhist spiritual centre in Yunnan. Since then it has been burned down and rebuilt several times. The current structure dates largely to the end of the Qing dynasty (end 1800). The entrance hall of the temple welcomes visitors with a smiling buddha statue (Budai) and four important statues of Kings warriors. In the courtyard there are several pavilions with golden statues of Buddha, very nice three large Buddha statues in the central part of the temple, the Daxiong Hall. The temple is famous for its clay sculptures of Buddhist monks finely crafted 500 Luohans (Arhats, or the "illuminati") carved by the artist, Li Guangxiu (1883-1890) and distributed in three halls of the temple. Each of these figures represents an aspect of human life with precision and skill, as real people frozen in a moment in time. Each statue is about one metre high and is characterized by different facial expressions and body gestures. It sucks compared to the fixed style of Buddhist sculptures. These seemingly ordinary people in the middle of Luohans depict lives and common feelings: the old and the young, the sick and the healthy, strong and emaciated, the beautiful and the ugly, rich man, poor man, with expressions of joy, anger, laughter, pain, pleasure, satisfaction, hunger, joy, sadness, compassion, serenity, curiosity, surprise, boredom, and contemplation. Too bad it's forbidden to photograph these statues because you are unique and very interesting. Another notable feature of the temple are two majestic cypress trees 450 years that stand out in the yard. Unfortunately we visited the Temple in a day of heavy rain and couldn't take a trip to the garden, we could still capture the beauty and uniqueness of this temple. Recommended visit!
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  • While I was not too impressed by the temple grounds or buildings, the 500 statues of "ordinary people", dressed in their work clothes, was impressive, although some were not available due to renovatio...  more »

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