Jade Buddha Temple

On September 1, 2011, in Historical Relics, Places of Interest, Shanghai, Temples, by Jack Li

The Jade Buddha situates in a quiet corner in Putuo District downtown Shanghai. The Jade Buddha Temple was founded in 1882 to house two white jade Buddha statues brought from Burma. Destroyed and then abandoned in the 1911, the temple buildings were.

reconstructed on the same site in 1918-28. It is a Song style complex with Chamber of Four Heavenly Kings, Grand Hall and Jade Buddha Chamber lying on the central axis. The Jade Buddha Temple is not necessarily famous for its architecture, but the two Buddhas housed within. Both are made of white jade in Burma and in depict of Shakyamuni Buddha. The most impressive of the two is the seated Buddha, 1.9 meters (6 feet 5 inches) tall, weighing 205 kg (452 lb) and decorated with semi-precious stones. The other statue is a serene and beautiful Reclining Buddha about 1 meter (3 feet 4 inches) long. The two precious jade Buddhist statues are not only valuable cultural relics but also magnificent artworks. Both the Seated Buddha and the Recumbent Buddha are carved with Burman white jade. The sparkling and crystal-clear jade gives the Buddhas a touch of sanctity and lifelikeness. The Seated Buddha is coated by the agate and the emerald, portraying the Buddha at the moment of his meditation. The calm face demonstrates the peacefulness of Sakyamuni when he left the secular world. The Recumbent Buddha lies on the right side with the right hand under his head and the left hand resting on the left leg. This posture is called  “lucky repose”. It was brought from Singapore by the tenth abbot of the temple in 1989. Moreover, there are many other ancient paintings and Buddhist scriptures distributed in the different halls of the temple.

Jade Buddha Temple Story

1.   The History of Jade Buddha Temple

In the Qing Dynasty under Emperor Guangxu’s rule there was a venerable monk named Hugen. One day was not satisfied with preaches in the temple and wanted to spread love and grace of Buddha to more people, thus, he come down the mountain and paid his pilgrimage to Burma where was considered the pure

land of Buddhism. He went through numerous hardships and destitution to finally get there. When he was in Burma, he found there was jade artwork everywhere in the market place. Consequently it occurred to him that it would be a perfect idea to carve the Buddha in this kind of jade. However, he didn’t have enough money to buy the jade. Huigen set up his mind to get this task done. So he travelled across the countries and collected mendicities for the statue. But the money he gathered from begging is far from enough. Fortunately, Huigen met a wealthy merchant who knew he was trying to complete a task that has far-reaching effects. So he chipped in 20,000 Liang silver to help Huigen. Huigen then asked permission of the king of Burma to tap the jade mine. The King asked him in surprise, “You are from China, why you come to our country and want to carve the jade Buddha?” “The Buddha himself took me here.” The Burma king was impressed by his piousness and gave him the permission. It was the very first time for a foreigner to tap the jade mine. Huigen hired several skillful craftsmen to carve five Buddha statues in different sizes and postures. Excited and content he placed the statues on a ship and took them back to China. Nonetheless, when he transferred them from sea ferries to river ferries in Shanghai, he can not do so because the statues are too heavy for such small boats. As he was stuck in Shanghai one of the Qing government officers persuaded him to leave the Buddha statues in Shanghai to spread love for local folks. Huigen agreed to leave two of the five, the Seated one and the Recumbent one. The Jade Buddha Temple was build in remembrance of Huigen housing the two valuable Buddha statues.

Jack Li

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