Big Buddha built in 1100
Zhangye is one of the important city in Gansu Province, midway of Hexi Corridor along the Silk Road. There are a few attractions to visit in Zhangye. One of them is the mysterious Dafo/Giant Buddha Temple. The temple is called Dafo/Big Buddha because inside the temple there is a sleeping Buddha which is also the largest in Asia built around 1100 in wooden frame and clay outside. No photography is allowed inside the Dafo temple so you won’t see any picture of the Dafo here.
Observe the Buddha’s Eye Lids
The temple was restored many times during the Ming and Qing dynasties. I don’t find the complex very big as compared to the other Big Buddhist complex in China but Dafo temple complex has the Big Buddha hall, the Buddhist classics hall, a Clay Pagoda. You will find the Big Buddha lies in the middle of the hall with calm expression. If you are walking from the Buddha’s head side to its feet side, one can notice that the Buddha’s eye lids are gradually closing, from half-open, to almost closed. It is as if sleeping but actually not.
Disciples & Warriors
The are 10 disciples behind the Big Buddha, each has a different expression on their face and in two side halls stand 18 Saintly Warriors.
Journey to the West Mural – an interesting twist of Zhu Bajie
One of my favorite thing in Big Buddha hall is the mural depicting Journey to the West story. One thing you will notice from the mural is Zhu Bajie, over here in Zhangye, Zhu Bajie (pig) has a good character instead of the lazy, lustful and love eating person. You will notice Zhu Bajie (pig) is the one who always carried things and doing task for the monk. Reason being Zhu Bajie married someone daughter in Zhangye so the mural say good thing about Zhu Bajie in this interesting mural since Zhu Bajie is the son-in-law here. The version of ‘Journey to the West’ mural here obviously has been adjusted the the taste of the people here in Zhangye city.
Before entering Dafo Temple, there is a mural near the souvenir shops.
Final thoughts :
The one thing you should notice carefully is the Dafo/Big Buddha face expression and the outfit. It is quite bizarre to see the artisan did such a wonderful job many thousand years ago even though they have not seen Buddha personally but still able to depict the Buddha expression so well.
Nearby Attractions Along Silk Road