Silk Road China – Zhangye : Dafo/ Big Buddha Temple

Silk Road China - Zhangye : Dafo/ Big Buddha Temple

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.

Silk Road China - Zhangye : Dafo/ Big Buddha Temple

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.

Silk Road China - Zhangye : Dafo/ Big Buddha Temple

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.

Silk Road China - Zhangye : Dafo/ Big Buddha Temple

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.

Silk Road China - Zhangye : Dafo/ Big Buddha Temple

Silk Road China - Zhangye : Dafo/ Big Buddha Temple

Silk Road China - Zhangye : Dafo/ Big Buddha Temple

Wishing tree 

Silk Road China - Zhangye : Dafo/ Big Buddha Temple

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



33 Replies to “Silk Road China – Zhangye : Dafo/ Big Buddha Temple”

  1. Your photos of this experience is breathtaking! It looks so relaxing and serene. These are the things we need to visit because the artists back then were true visionaries!

    1. Dear Ashley,
      Thanks for your comment. You are absolutely right. When I visit Dafo Temple which built thousands years ago, the one thing which make me do a lot of thinking is the artist who made this many thousands years ago 🙂 => Have they see Dafo/Big Buddha” How do they know how the Buddhha sleep and what the custome was like??

    1. Dear Twentyish,
      The wishing trees can be see in most temples and usually the red paper or ribbon written with best wishes are tight at the huge trees. It made a very good deco in the temple I find.

    1. Dear Jojo,
      Thanks for your comment. I am glad there are maintainance made frequently, hence we are still able to see the Big Buddha now. Having said that, no photo is allowed inside the Big Buddha Hall.

  2. This looks like an interesting temple, I love the design with the roof flicking out on each corner. I love the design as what I believe would be the entrance to the temple. There aren’t many places where you can’t take photos these days so it gives it a sense of mystery!

  3. This is another great write up! Would love to see the Big Buddha Temple someday. Too bad no photos are allowed – would have loved to glimpse the expression. I too am amazed at artisans who are gifted with their craft – it is astonishing and awe inspiring when we stand before magnificent works of art! Xo, Evelyn, PathofPresence

  4. I never really thought about going to China before, it looks beautiful though. May need to add it to my want to do list.

  5. You have portrayed wonderful pics of facades of Buddha temple along with detailed info. Like immensely. I have seen Buddha monastery at highest elevation in Tibet.

  6. This was an interesting article. How amazing that the Big Buddha is still being maintained well after being built so long ago!

    1. Dear thekittycrumbles,
      Thanks for you comment. Inside the stucture of the statue, it is made of wood but it was covered with mud/sand hence it can last for thousand years. The coloring in Buddha is faded and strictly no photography.

    1. Dear Devendra,
      Thanks for your comment. There is a big buddha lying down and a mural with Journey of the West story. Look carefully at all the details and you will notice many interesting things.

  7. This looks like an interesting place to visit. I’ve always wanted to visit China. Hopefully next year and I will check out this place.

  8. This sounds like such an amazing place to visit, with all its history – I hope I get a chance someday! I agree with you that the artistry and craftsmanship of some of these treasures that date back 1000+ years is simply awe-inspiring.

    1. Dear Susan,
      Thanks for your comment. The Zhangye is one of the major stop in Silk Road China, few attractions in Zhangye and one of the must see is the Asia Biggest Buddha which was built in 1100 years.

    1. Dear Julie,
      Thanks for your comment. The temple is not very compared to China standard. The highlite is the great buddha which was built in 1100 with wood inside and clay outside. Photography is not allowed so one can only see it with their eyes.

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