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Kunming Attractions

Sightseeing Kunming


Qiongzhu Temple

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Qiongzhu Temple

Qiongzhu Temple, 12 km northwest of Kunming, dates back to the Tang Dynasty. Burned down and rebuilt in the 15 th century, it was restored from 1883 to 1890 when the abbot employed master Sichuanese sculptor Li Guangxiu and his apprentices to fashion 500 luohan (arhats or noble ones). These life-size clay figures are stunning, either very realistic or very surrealistic, a sculptural tour de force. Down one huge wall come the incredible surfing Buddhas, some 70-odd, riding the waves on a variety of mounts, blue dogs, giant crabs, shrimp, turtles and unicorns.

The statues have been constructed with the precision of a split-second photograph, a monk about to chomp into a large peach (the face contorted almost into a scream), a figure caught turning around to emphasize a discussion point, another about to clap two cymbals together, yet another cursing a pet monster. The old, the sick the emaciated.Nothing is spared; the expressions of joy, anger, grief or boredom are extremely vivid.

So lifelike are the sculptures that they were considered in bad taste by Li Guangxiu's contemporaries (some of whom no doubt appeared in caricature), and upon the project's completion he disappeared into thin air.

By far the easiest way to get here is to take a bus from in front of Yunnan Fandian. Buses run from 7 am to around 16 pm leaving as soon as they are full. The ride takes 30 minutes and costs around RMB 8 one way.

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