.Leshan Giant Buddha
Leshan Giant Buddha, the largest stone sculpture of Buddha in the world, sits at the confluence of the Minjiang, Dadu and Qingyi rivers. According to records, the carving of this giant Buddha was begun in the in the first year of the reign of the Tang Emperor Tang Xuanzong (713 AD), and completed in the 19th year of Emperor Dezong (803 AD), a total of 90 years. Taking the shape of a Maitreya ,he is depicted barefooted with drooping ears and has his hair arranged in a spiral topknot. His chest is exposed and his hands rest on his knees. Carved from the side of the Lingyun Hill, with his head level with the cliff top, the gigantic stone sculpture faces Mt. Emeishan, with the rivers flowing below his feet.
Looking dignified and solemn, the Buddha measures 71 meters in height. His shoulders are 28 meters across. The head is 14.7 metes long and 10 meters broad with total 1021 buns of hair on it. The instep, which is 8.5 meters wide, can accommodate 100 people. The toe is large enough to accommodate a dinner table. Taller by 17 meters than the standing Buddha in Afghanistan, Leshan Giant Buddha is therefore the tallest Buddha in the world and in 1996, it was added to the World Natural and Cultural Heritage List.
It was said there was a river monster that lived at this spot. He often caused floods that capsized passing boats and took cost many lives. In order to subdue the waters and save lives, Master Haitong, a Buddhist abbot of the Lingyun Monastery, raised the necessary funds and commenced the construction of the Giant Buddha. He hoped that the presence of the Great Buddha would subdue the monster and so pacify the swift currents thereby protecting the boatmen who traversed the treacherous river.
The Leshan Giant Buddha is a statue of Maitreya (a Bodhisattva usually represented as a very stout monk with a broad smile on his face and with his naked breast and paunch exposed to view) in sitting posture. The Buddha is located to the east of Leshan City, Sichuan Province, at the confluence of three rivers, namely, Min River, Qingyi River, and Dadu River. The statue makes itself the most renowned scenic spot in that city. In December, 1996, the location of the Buddha was included by UNESCO on the list of the World Heritage sites. Begun in the year 713 in the Tang Dynasty, and finished in the year 803, the statue took people more than 90 years to carve. During these years, thousands of workers had expended their efforts and wisdom on the project. As the biggest carved stone Buddha in the world, the Giant Buddha is featured in poetry, song and story.
Facing the river, the Buddha has symmetrical posture and looks which have been beautifully captured in its solemn stillness. It is 71 meters (about 233 feet) high, and has 8.3-meter-long (about 27 feet) fingers. The 9-meter-wide (about 30 feet) instep is big enough for one hundred people to sit on and the 24-meter-wide (about 79 feet) shoulder is large enough to be a basketball playground.
The charm of the Buddha lies not only in its size but also in its architectural artistry. There are 1,021 buns in the Buddha's coiled hair. These have been skillfully embedded in the head. The skill is so wonderful that the 1,021 buns seem integral to the whole. Another architectural highlight is the drainage system. This system is made up of some hidden gutters and channels, scattered on the head and arms, behind the ears and in the clothes. This system, which helps displace rainwater and keep the inner part dry, plays an important part in the protection of the Buddha. The large pair of ears, each seven meters (about 23 feet) long, is made of wood and is decorated by mud on the surface. For craftsmen of thousands of years ago, it was not easy to fix these to the stone head.
Head of Leshan Giant BuddhaHaving such a long history and such worldwide fame, the renovation of the Buddha has received extensive attention both at home and abroad. The Buddha was nearly destroyed by the erosion of wind and rain before 1963 when the Chinese government began the repairing work.
Sichuan Travel Guide