Leshan Giant Buddha took more than 90 years to carve, from the year 713 in the Tang Dynasty till the completion in the year 803. The project is initiated by a monk called Haitong.
As a local saying goes, “the Buddha is a mountain and the mountain is a Buddha.” Leshan Giant Buddha is a statue of Maitreya sitting solemnly against the cliff. It is 71 meters high. Its head is 14.7 meters high and covered with 1,021 chignons. Its ear is 6.72 meters long, nose 5.33 meters long, eye 3.3 meters wide, and shoulders 24 meters wide. Its middle finger is 8.3 meters long, and each of the feet is 11 meters long, large enough to accommodate more than 100 people sitting on it. It is the tallest stone Buddha statue in the world. Leshan Giant Buddha is the crystallization of the part of the ancient Chinese people's culture, as well as a world-class wonder. It became a protected historic site in Sichuan Province in 1956, and acknowledged by the State Council as a key stated-protected historic site in 1982.
Oriental Buddhism Capital
In the World Heritage Protection Zone of the Leshan Giant Buddha, there is a unique world cultural site, the Oriental Buddhism Capital, a collection of 3,000 Buddha statues from both China and abroad. Adjacent to Leshan Giant Buddha in the north, the center uses mountain, earth and heaven to display its Buddha statues and temple, with its largest Hall of Mahavira enshrining the Buddha of Three Bodies.
The Oriental Buddhism Capital is situated in Lingyun Mountain, one kilometer from Leshan City, and is comprised of Leshan Giant Buddha, Wulong (Black Dragon) Temple, Mahao Tomb Caves and other scenic spots. Covering an area of more than 500 mu, it includes flourishing trees, zigzagging stone steps and elegant pavilions, which together produce a pleasant scene.
The scenic area combines religious art, carving and skillful landscaping, and has a fine collection of precious Buddha statues from China, India, Japan and other southern and eastern Asian countries and regions, as well as more than 3,000 replicas of various sizes. The natural backdrop of mountains is fully used as a setting for the statues arranged in graceful disorder, displaying the magnificent Buddhism culture. Artistic styles include cliff-side stone carving, full relief, relief and fresco. Materials include stone, cast copper, painted sculpture and black jade. The various methods and materials endow the Buddha statues with different character and artistic styles.
Dongpo Pavilion is one of the famous historic sites in Lingyun Mountain. Located in the Luanfeng Peak in the rear of Leshan Giant Buddha’s head, it is a northeast-southwest-oriented wooden two-storey building. It was first built in the Song Dynasty and originally named “Zaijiutang” (Wine Carrying Hall). Dongpo Pavilion is originally a memorial hall to Wei Zhongxian, a treacherous court official in the late Ming Dynasty. Years later, people changed its name to the current one in memory of Su Shi, an eminent writer in the Song Dynasty whose pseudonym was Dongpo Jushi.
The three Chinese characters “Dongpo Pavilion” on the plaque hanging in front of the pavilion are pieced together from the handwritings of Huang Tingjian, a famous calligrapher in the Song Dynasty. On the sidewalls are four paintings by Song Dongpo, which were carved in the Qing Dynasty, as well as a painting of the writer wearing a bamboo hat and clogs. In the center of the ground floor, there is a newly-made statue of a sitting Su Dongpo looking dignified and poised.
Dongpo Pavilion has been revered by artists and poets of all ages. Their passion to write poems was often inspired by the garden-patterned landscape. Therefore, there are numerous inscriptions of essays and poems, especially couplets.
The Wuyou Mountain is also called Lidui, or Qingyishan, and it is located at the confluence of the Dongmoshui River (Dadu River), the Ruoshui River (Qingyi River) and the Tonghe River (Minjiang River) in Leshan City. Wuyou Mountain was originally named “Wuniu” (Black Cow) and it resembles a rhinoceros, but received its current name from Huang Tingjian.
There are many pavilions and palaces in the mountain, and their green tiles and red walls create beautiful scenery. Zhang Chuanshu, a poet in the Qing Dynasty, said in a poem, “The river flows around the ancient Jiazhou located on the western bank of Lingyun Mountain; the green shade won’t disperse, and you can view Wuyou from three angles.”