The Leshan Giant Buddha is situated in the City of Leshan in Sichuan Province. It was carved on the cliff beside the infall of the Minjiang River, the Qingyi River, and the Dadu River. Built in the Tang Dynasty, it is the biggest stone statue of Maitreya in the world.

The height of the Leshan Giant Buddha is 71 meters, with his head in alignment with the summit of the hill, and his feet step on the bank beside. The stone Maitreya is very well-proportioned as a whole. He lower half of his body is 28 meter high, and his shoulder is 24 meter wide, with a 3 meter long neck on it, attaching to a 14.7 meter long, 10 meter wide head. His feet step on the bank of the river beside, and his hands, with ten 8.3 meter long fingers, are put on his knees. The giant foot of the buddha is 8.5 meters wide so that more than a hundred people can sit on them together at the same time. There are two 7 meter long ears, two 5.6 meter long eyebrows, two 3.3 meter long eyes, a 5.6 meter long nose, a 3.3 meter long mouth, and 1021 strands of curly hair on the Maitreya’s head. Sitting beside the river, he has a quite serious looking on his face. Apart from the giant buddha, there are two ten meter high stone warriors with halberds in their hands carved on the left and right side of him, and a great many little stone Buddha statues around them. Most of the statues were carved in the Tang Dynasty by Buddhist believers then.

The stone Maitreya is not a solid statue. Inside his chest, there is a secret cave for preserving buddhist scriptures. The slabstone that is used to seal up the cave is a tablet from Tianning Pavilion, a famous buddhist pavilion that used to exist above the statue. It is said that the tablet was dumped during the pavilion’s renovation in the Song Dynasty, and obviously someone brought it to the cave. Now there is no scripture inside the cave any more, you can only find some iron scraps and bricks inside.

Rumor has it that after the establishment of the Leshan Giant Buddha in the Tang Dynasty, people built several wooden roofs and base supports so that the statue would not be exposed to the sun and the rain. Later, these facilities were joined together and became Buddhist pavilions. On the thighs, the arms, the chest, and the insteps of the Buddha, you can discovery the traces of these facilities easily. In the Song Dynasty, the pavilion was renovated and enlarged. Later, it became a very famous Buddhist pavilion in Chinese history, the Tianning Pavilion. Unfortunately, the pavilion has been destroyed a long time ago.

The Leshan Giant Buddha represents the wisdom of ancient Chinese people. It is really hard to imagine how they build such a giant and vivid stone statue on the steep cliff without any modern technics.

The Leshan Giant Buddha Attractions

The Oriental Buddha City Gallery

The Lingbao Tower

The Mahao Cliff-tombs

The Leshan Giant Buddha Story

The Legend of the Leshan Giant Buddha

It is said that, at the beginning of the Tang Dynasty, there was a Lingyun Temple on the hill where the Giant Buddha is located today. The abbot of the temple then is an old monk named Haitong. Since the hill is situated beside the infall of the Mingjiang River, the Qingyi River, and the Dadu River, the monk could see what happened on the river everyday from inside the temple clearly. He saw that many ships were split on the underwater rocks and sank into the river. He believed that these tragedies were caused by the monsters in the river. So he decided to build a stone buddha in the hill to keep the mosters away.

The old monk asked two famous stonemasons from the nearby villages for help. One said that, he could carve thousands of stone buddhas on the cliff faced with the river. And the other replied, he wanted to build a giant buddha on the cliff so that the monsters in the river would be drive away. The old monk agreed to both of them, and the two stonemasons started their own work. It took only two years for the former one to finish carving a thousand small Buddha statues on the cliff. However, it tooks 90 years for the later stonemason to establish a giant buddha statue. Actually, he did not finished his work in his lifetime. It was his disciples who helped him finish the statue after he passed away. The mosters in the river dared not destory the ships coming and going after the giant statue was set up. And the people lived in the villages around the stone Buddha enjoyed a happy life from then on. It seems that the giant Buddha is much more useful than the smaller ones.

Jack Li

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