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Longxing Temple


The Longxing Temple is located at Menli Street in the east of Zhengding County, Hebei Province.
Pavilion of the Great Mercy
The Longxing Temple is a large-scale temple existing in China with a long history and a complete structure. It was the former Longteng Garden of Mu Rongxi in theHouyan state during the Sixteen States Period (304-439). It was transformed into a temple called Longcang in the 6thyear (586) of the Kaihang reign under Emperor Wendi of the Sui Dynasty (581-618). In the 4thyear (971) of the Kaibao reign of the Song Dynasty (960-1279), Emperor Taizu (Zhao Kuangyin) ordered to expand it and rename it as Longxing (here Long means dragon) Temple. The Longxing Temple experienced another two expansions in the Kangxi and Qianlong reigns and got the name of Longxing (here Long means prosperity) Temple. Because of the huge bronze statue of Buddha in the temple, the Longxing Temple is also widely known as Dafo (bid Buddha) Temple. In Hebei Province there is such a saying that: Cangzhou City has lions; Dingzhou City has towers; Zhengding City has a huge Bodhisattva. The Longxing Temple occupies an area of around 50,000 square meters. Its plane is a rectangle. The structure and the buildings kept the Song architectural style. Facing to the south, the temple consists of Hall of Deva Kings, Hall of Mahamuni, Altar of Vinaya (or Ordination Platform), Pavilion of the Great Mercy and Temple of Amitabha.

The Hall of Mahamuni lies at the front part of the central line, first built in the 4thyear (1052) of the Huangtuo reign of the Northern Song Dynasty. Frescoes made in the Ming Dynasty with subjects of Buddhist stories are around the hall. Their color and hue is still as bright as they were just painted. Five clay sculptures in golden clothes are on the altar in the middle of the hall. Among them, statues of Sakyamuni, Ven. Ananda, Kassapa were original ones made in the Song Dynasty (960-1279), and the other two were made in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) when the temple was expanded. On the back of the screen wall in the north is the unconventional painted clay sculpture of Sumeru. In the sculpture, all kinds of rare fowls and strange animals are running, and a Kwan-yin sits quietly in the middle with a chaplet around the head, ribbons on the shoulders, chest and arms exposed, full and round, hands on knees, one foot on a lotus and the other foot crouched. She appears calm and at ease. This sculpture broke away from the traditional dull style of the religious icons, and is a fine work of the clay sculpture of the Ming Dynasty.

The Pavilion of the Great Mercy, which is at the back part of the central line, is the main building of the temple. It is 33 meters high, 7-bay wide and 5-bay long. It has three storeys and five layers of eaves. Its gable and hip roof is covered with green glazed tiles. According to the documents, the Pavilion of the Great Mercy was built in the Kaibao reign (968-976) of the Northern Song Dynasty, and rebuilt in 1944. The bronze Kwan-yin statue with a thousand hands and a thousand eyes towering in the hall was built due to the order of Zhao Kuangyin, an emperor of the Song Dynasty. The 22-meter-high bronze statue appears calm and at ease, and the lines of her clothes are smooth. The Kwan-yin has 42 arms, holding sun, moon, sword, cane and other musical instruments. It is one of the largest bronze statues extant in China.

The Vairocana Hall is at the end of the central line. Originally it was the main hall of the Chongyin Temple, which was near the northern gate of Zhengding County. Later, the temple was abandoned and only this hall was preserved. In 1959, the hall was moved to the Longxing Temple, but it was first built in the Wanli reign (1573-1620) of the Ming Dynasty with a bronze statue of Buddha Vairocana in it. On each section of the lotus throne there is a tiny Buddha, 1,000 Buddha in total. On the third layer of the lotus throne, there are 12 statues of Buddha Vairocan, bringing the total number of Buddha statues to 1,012. They form the image ofa thousand Buddha surrounding Vairocana. Such unconventional style is the typical example of bronze statues.

Because of the long history, the Longxing Temple has a lot of tablets in it, among which the Longcang Tablet is the most precious one. This tablet was set up in the 6thyear (586) of the Kaihuang reign of the Sui Dynasty (581-618) after the Longcang Temple was completed with the joint efforts of thousands of people. The calligraphy of the inscription is writtenwith great strength,inheriting the style of the Northern Dynasty (386-581) and initiating the calligraphic style during the most prosperous period of the Tang Dynasty. It holds an important position in the history of China's calligraphy, as Kang Youwei, the famous scholar in the late years of the Qing Dynasty, put it:This tablet has the characteristics of all the tablets in the six dynasties, and surely can be classified as the No. 1 Tablet not simply in the Sui Dynasty.

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