Rongxian Giant Buddha Statue
Rongxian Giant Buddha statue is a stone statue that was built around early 9th century during the Tang Dynasty. This Giant Buddha statue is somewhat similar to Leshan Giant Buddha statue which is around 90 kilometers west. The Buddha statue is carved out of the cliff face of a stone hill that lies to the northeast of Rongxian and Rongxi river in the eastern part of Sichuan province in China. Below this statue, there is a town with the name of Rongxian which is 414 meters above sea level. This statue is the second tallest pre-modern statue after the giant Leshan Buddha statue which depicts Maitreya Buddha, the future Buddha.
Discovery of Rongxian Buddha Statue
This statue was constructed during the Tang dynasty around early 9th century but it not known to the world. It is learned that the westerner, Edward Colborne Baber got the information about the statue's existence by an unknown Russian traveler. He was there to visit Jah-ding and Mount Omei, Leshan Buddha statue in the late 1870s. However, it was only known to the world after Roger Sprague, an American University Graduate visit the place. He learned that the statue was on the same plan as the Buddha at Leshan.
Iconography and surrounding of the Buddha statue
The Rongxian Buddha statue's upper half has been carved in the sandstone cliff and the later one is carved out of the stone into a seating posture as in European style. This was because the cliff had the stone in the bottom while sandstone in the upper part of the cliff. Rongxian Buddha statue doesn't confirm the posture as of other Buddha statues since his legs are not crossed. But regarding his hands, his right hand is depicted in Dhyana Mudra and his left-hand rests on his left thigh with palm upward. The robe that he wears is completely worn off due to various reasons. The statue's overall height is 71 m out of which Buddha head is only 8.76m long, the shoulder is 12.67m wide, the foot is 3.5m wide and his body measures 63.67m. The temple covers an area of about 80000 Square meters, the temple and enclosing the Buddha has an area of 2000 square meters.
The sophisticated drainage system has been incorporated into the Rongxian Giant Buddha when it was built. This drainage system is in working condition even today. The system includes drainage pipes carved into various places on the body, to carry away the water after the rains so as to reduce weathering.
Along with sophisticated drainage system, a huge ten story wood structure with five roofs was also built to shelter it from the rain and sun. This structure is also preserved and still stands in this place.
At the foothills of the cliff, there has managed a park with beautiful artistic creations. The park also houses other traditional Chinese style architectural buildings.
The Rongxian Buddha statue is visited by lots of people with different purposes. But most people visit this site with a religious motive. The Even though this pilgrimage site has archaeologically and religious importance, the Rongxian Buddha has been affected by the pollution emanating from the uncontrolled developmental works in that region.
Not only Rongxian Buddha statue, but also other nearby cultural heritage sites, many Chinese natural sites and also the Leshan Giant Buddha in this region have seen degradation from weathering, air pollution and also a large number of tourists visiting these places.