How was Leshan Giant Buddha Built

how was leshan giant buddha built

The Leshan Giant Buddha is a monumental stone sculpture located in Leshan City, Sichuan Province, China. It is considered one of the most significant and awe-inspiring Buddha statues in the world. The construction of the Leshan Giant Buddha began during the Tang Dynasty and was completed in the early 9th century. Here is a detailed account of how this magnificent statue was built.

Conceptualization and Planning:

The idea of constructing a colossal Buddha statue in Leshan was conceived by a Chinese monk named Hai Tong during the 8th century. He believed that the presence of a Buddha statue overlooking the confluence of three rivers would help calm the turbulent waters and protect the people who sailed on them. Hai Tong devoted himself to the project, seeking support from both local authorities and the wider Buddhist community.

Site Selection:

The site for the statue was chosen at the confluence of the Minjiang, Dadu, and Qingyi rivers near Leshan City. The location provided a scenic backdrop and strategic significance, as the rivers’ convergence posed a threat to navigation due to the turbulent waters and treacherous currents.

Preparation and Clearing:

Before the actual construction began, the steep cliffs of Lingyun Mountain, where the statue would be carved, needed extensive preparation. The construction team cleared the vegetation and loose rocks from the mountainside, ensuring a stable base for the sculpture.

Carving Process:

The carving process started from the top of the mountain and gradually moved downwards. The construction team worked diligently, removing layers of rock to create a massive niche for the statue. Initially, they used only simple tools like chisels, hammers, and chiseling poles to excavate the stone.

Advanced Techniques:

As the construction progressed, more advanced techniques were employed to enhance efficiency. For instance, an elaborate drainage system was devised to channel rainwater away from the statue, preventing erosion and structural damage. The builders also used acoustic principles, creating hidden channels within the statue to amplify the sound of ringing bells, a feature intended to ward off evil spirits.

Sculpting the Buddha:

Once the rough niche for the statue was completed, the builders began the intricate process of sculpting the Buddha itself. They worked on the finer details, including the facial features, hands, clothing, and adornments. The Buddha was designed in a seated posture, with its hands resting on its knees and its face turned towards Mount Emei.

Integration with the Surroundings:

The builders took great care to integrate the statue harmoniously with its natural surroundings. They carved stairs, walkways, and paths that led visitors to different viewing points, allowing them to admire the statue from various angles. Additionally, they constructed a series of temples and pavilions around the statue, creating a serene and reverential atmosphere.

Completion and Preservation:

After nearly 90 years of continuous construction, the Leshan Giant Buddha was finally completed in the early 9th century. The statue stands approximately 71 meters (233 feet) tall, making it the largest stone Buddha statue in the world. Over the centuries, the statue has undergone several preservation efforts, including reinforcement of the cliff face, restoration of weathered parts, and measures to protect it from erosion and earthquakes.

Today, the Leshan Giant Buddha remains a symbol of Buddhist art and engineering excellence. It attracts millions of visitors each year, who come to admire its grandeur and marvel at the remarkable craftsmanship involved in its creation.

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