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Colored arhat sculpture at Zijin Temple

( chinadaily.com.cn )

Updated: 2017-06-15

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Suzhou is really an amazing city where there is always so much to explore. If you are interested in sculpture or religion Zijin Temple, known far and wide for its colorful arhat sculpture, is a must-see destination. Arhats were the original followers of the Buddha.

Colored arhat sculpture at Zijin Temple

Zijin Temple, "Zijin An in Chinese", is located in Dongshan town scenic resort, Wuzhong district, Suzhou. [Photo from visitsz.com]

Colored arhat sculpture at Zijin TempleThe temple was built in the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and reconstructed during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). It has gained great popularity and repute thanks to the Sakyamuni Buddha, Medicine Buddha, and Amitabha Buddha statues enshrined there, but its best known attractions are the lifelike colored arhat sculptures created by a couple who lived in the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279).

The arhat sculptures have been noted not only for their colors, but also for their diversified postures that are quite true to life. It seems the sculptors wanted to use all their talents to tell the stories. Their arhats, remarkably full of vitality, meditate, doze and snicker, all the time looking sullen, anxious, haughty, drunk or surprised.

There are three arhats keeping their eyes on the same "Jiao long", a mythical beast believed to have leapt high into the sky on the wave of an enormous flood and then turned into a real dragon. A bare-foot arhat confidently tames the creature, posed to command it at his feet, with his left hand on his bent left knee, lips closely shut, right palm upward and eyes wide open. Another arhat takes on an expression of admiration while the third, cross-legged with his head turned back, peeps at the creature with disdain from sunken eyes. Colored arhat sculpture at Zijin Temple

The craftsmen are considered masters of the 12th century Chinese sculpture. They did not characterize the Buddhist arhats as far away from the mundane world but showed them behaving as humans do.

The arhat sculptures housed in Zijin Temple have been included among key historical and cultural relics under the protection of the State Council.

Address: Biluo village, Dongshan town of Wuzhong district, Suzhou

Tickets: 30 yuan per head and free for kids under 1.2 meters

Open hours: 8:00 to 17:00

Colored arhat sculpture at Zijin Temple

Colored sculpture at the Zijin Temple [Photo from visitsz.com]

Colored arhat sculpture at Zijin Temple

Buddhist sculpture at the Zijin Temple [Photo from visitsz.com]

Colored arhat sculpture at Zijin Temple

Visitors stop for a look [Photo from visitsz.com]

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