THE BUDDHISM IMPACT ON CHINA

Spread of Buddhism to China
Buddhism was spread along the Silk Road and other trade routes and had reached China by the time of the Later Han Dynasty.One account of Buddhism's entry into China describes Han Emperor Ming's dream during the first century CE. It is said that Buddha appeared to the emperor in a dream and that the very next day he ordered some his officials to travel west in an attempt to find what had caused his vision. The officials west traveled along the Silk Road and eventually came upon two Buddhist monks with two white horses. The monks carried with them a picture of Buddha and their horses were loaded with holy Buddhist scriptures. The Chinese officials invited the monks to return with them to China's capital, Chang'an, to introduce Buddhism to the emperor.

Upon there return to Chang'an, the emperor identified the picture of Buddha as the figure he had seen in his dream. The emperor asked the two monks to translate their texts into Chinese. The emperor built a temple for the two monks to stay in while they translated their texts. The temple that became known as the White Horse Temple in honor of the two white horses that had carried Buddhist scriptures all the way from China. While no one knows whether or not this myth is an accurate description, there is historical fact which shows Buddhism being practiced in China by the middle of the second century CE. Even though the Later Han Dynasty disintegrated in the last half of the second century CE, the interest in Buddhism throughout China continued. Various figures and monks continued to translate Buddhist texts into Chinese and thus began the widespread popularity of Buddhism in China which continues today.

White Horse Temple 

Left: White Horse in an enclosure at the

entrance to the White Horse Temple.  Right: Horse that brought saints and scriptures to the location at the entrance

The White Horse Temple (Baima Si) in Luoyang, Henan Province, was the first Buddhist temple in China, established by Emperor Mingdi in the year 68 AD. The historic, leafy site features several ancient buildings and a highly devotional atmosphere.

HISTORY OF WHITE HORSE TEMPLE
According to legend, the Eastern Han emperor Mingdi dreamed of a golden figure flying over his palace with the sun and moon behind its head. The emperor told his ministers about the dream, and they suggested the figure may be the Buddha in India. A delegation was thus sent to India to learn more about Buddhism. After three years, the delegation returned with two eminent Indian Buddhit monks, She Moteng and Zhu Falan (also spelled Kasyapamatanga and Dharmavanya or Moton and Chufarlan). The monks brought with them a white horse carrying a bundle of Buddhist sutras and figures. The next year, the emperor ordered the construction of White Horse Temple to honor the arrival of Buddhism in China and the horse that carried back the sutras. It was China's first Buddhist temple. The introduction of Buddhism in China would have a significant influence not only in the religious sphere, but on Chinese morals, philosophy and ethics. The first Chinese version of the Sutra of Forty-two Sections was produced at the White Horse Temple, and the temple increased in importance as Buddhism grew within China and spread to Korea, Japan and Vietnam.

BUDDHIST ART

Seated Buddha, Gilt Bronze

The earliest dated Chinese Buddhist image is a gilt bronze seated Buddha. It is somewhat simplified version of the Gandharta style.

Bodhisattvas
are enlightened beings who have put off entering paradise in order to help others attain enlightenment. There are many different Bodhisattvas, but the most famous in China is Avalokitesvara, known in Chinese as Guanyin. Bodhisattvas are usually depicted as less austere or inward than the Buddha. Renouncing their own salvation and immediate entrance into nirvana, they devote all their power and energy to saving suffering beings in this world. As the deity of compassion, Bodhisattvas are typically represented with precious jewelry, elegant garments and graceful postures.

Bodhisattvas
are enlightened beings who have put off entering paradise in order to help others attain enlightenment. There are many different Bodhisattvas, but the most famous in China is Avalokitesvara, known in Chinese as Guanyin. Bodhisattvas are usually depicted as less austere or inward than the Buddha. Renouncing their own salvation and immediate entrance into nirvana, they devote all their power and energy to saving suffering beings in this world. As the deity of compassion, Bodhisattvas are typically represented with precious jewelry, elegant garments and graceful postures.

Stone relief of Bodhisattva from Maijishan

Stone relief of Bodhisattva from Yungang

Tang Bodhisattvas
The Tang dynasty ushered in a period of growth and prosperity, during which Buddhism flourished. Buddhist beliefs, temples, and art permeated almost all levels of Tang life. Surviving Buddhist sculpture reflects the wealth of the great Buddhist monasteries.

SIX DYNASTIES AND NORTHERN WEI

Six dynasties with capitals in Jiankang(the modern day Nanjing) : 
Eastern Wu (222 280)  Jin Dynasty (265 420)  Liu Song Dynasty (420 479)  Qi Dynasty (479 502)  Liang Dynasty (502 557)  Chen Dynasty (557 589)

NORTHERN WEI 

The first Buddha statues of

Dunhuang from the Northern Wei are very thin, still looking like an ascete.

Northern Wei wall murals and painted figurines from the Yungang Grottoes.

A scene of two horseback riders from a wall painting in the tomb of Lou Rui at Taiyuan, Shanxi, Northern Qi Dynasty (550 577)

Yungang Caves

Yungang Caves/ Yungang Grottoes feature a blend of ancient Buddhist temple grottoes and statues, revealing excellent stone carvings of 5th to 6th centuries.

Yungang colossal Buddha, Rock cut

Yungang Caves feature several colossal and famed seated Buddhas.

Regarded as a historical site, Yungang Caves boost numerous precious ancient relics.

Regarded as a historical site, Yungang Caves boost numerous precious ancient relics. Although after over a thousand year, the delicate colors of buddhist statues are still brilliant in our eyes.

BUDDHIST ARCHITECTURE

PAGODA 
Pagoda, symbol of Buddhism, where people

climb to have a bird's-eye-view, is often erected in temples. Pagodas can be made of stone, wood, colored glaze or metal. Pagodas have an odd number of layers. Seven-layer and Ninelayer pagodas are commonly built. The shape of cross-section is rectangular, eight-sided or even circular. Initially, the pagoda served as the central axis alongside which rows of halls and monks' rooms spread out. Later, pagodas were built near the main palace hall.

Songyuesi pagoda

Songyue Si Interior s view

GROTTO 
Grotto, another type of Buddhist architecture, is

often chiseled into cliffs. In the 3rd century, Chinese Buddhists began to build grottoes and Xinjiang is the first area where grottoes were hewn. Grottoes are decorated with painted sculptures, carvings and frescos. Craftsmen revealed real life pictures and their understanding of society in these art works, which gave them great historical and cultural value. The four famous grottoes in China are: Mogao Caves, Longmen Grottoes, Yungang Grottoes and Maiji Caves.

Longmen Caves

Mogao Caves, Dunhuang

Maiji Caves

THE BUDDHIST IMPACT ON CHINA Reported By: Judy Meg Talan THANK YOU FOR LISTENING!

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