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Shuanglin Temple

Shuanglin Temple, Pingyao
Located in the Qiaotou Village about six kilometers (four miles) to Pingyao, the Shuanglin Temple is reputed to be the 'ancient painted sculptures museum'. It houses more than 2,000 colorful sculptures reflecting the exquisite skills of the artisans of the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties. In 1997, it was included in the World Heritage List by UNESCO as an important cultural site of Ping Yao City in 1997.

Originally, the temple was called the Zhongdu Temple but it was renamed Shuanglin during the Song Dynasty (960-1127). In Chinese, Shuang means two or double, and Lin, forest. The temple got its name from a Buddhist story. According to the Buddhist sutra, Sakyamuni who was the founder of Buddhism, entered nirvana under two trees; Hence, its name Shuanglin.

Reconstructed in 571, the Shuanglin Temple has a history of about 1,400 years. It consists of ten large and small halls, and the sutra chanting hall and the monks' rooms. The ten halls include the Heavenly Kings' Hall, the Arhats' Hall, the Mahavira Hall (Da Xiong Bao Dian), and the One-Thousand Buddha Hall, the Sakyamuni Hall, the Bodhisattva Hall, the Ti-tsang Bodhisattva Hall, the Guan Yu's Hall and two other halls. Guan Yu was a famous general of Shu during the Period of Three Kingdoms. Later, he would be worshipped as a god.

Painted Sculpture, Shuanglin Temple
Painted Sculpture
Standing in front of the Heavenly Kings' Hall, tourists will see the sculptures of the four Heavenly Kings below the eaves of the veranda, which look mighty and magnificent. Below the eaves of the hall hangs a plaque with the three characters 'Tian', 'Zhu' and 'Sheng' written on it. In the Heavenly Kings' Hall, the sculpture of Maitreya is worshiped with two Bodhisattvas attending on his left and right. There are also four Heavenly Kings and eight Bodhisattvas. With a height of three meters (ten feet) each of the four holds a Pipa (a Chinese musical instrument), a sword, a snake or an umbrella in hand. All the sculptures in the hall are vivid and lifelike.

In the middle of the Arhats' Hall is the sculpture of Kwan-yin with eighteen arhats standing to the left and right. The facial expressions of these arhats differ from each other. With one drunken arhat, another sick, yet another as a dwarf while others fat and thin, they all exemplify the ancient artisans' excellent skills. The mute arhat is the most famous. His face is exaggerated with his eyebrows frowned and lips sealed. It seems that he has seen much unfairness in the world but can not express this to others.

In the One-thousand Buddha Hall is enshrined Kwan-yin sitting on the pedestal with her right leg bent and left one stepping on a lotus leaf. The Veda in the hall is reputed to be the best in China and well worth exploring. There are also about 500 sculptures of Bodhisattva in different carriages.

Painted Sculpture, Shuanglin Temple Painted Sculpture, Shuanglin Temple Painted Sculpture, Shuanglin Temple
The Sakyamuni Hall and the Bodhisattva Hall are also two must-sees of the Shuanglin Temple. In the Sakyamuni Hall is the sculpture of Sakyamuni attended, on left and right, by Manjusri and Samantabhadra. The sculptures on the walls depict some stories related to Sakyamuni. The sculpture of One-thousand Hand Kwan-yin is the most renowned in the Bodhisattva Hall while on the walls of the Hall are embedded about 480 sculptures of Bodhisattvas.

Admission Fee: CNY 40 per person
Opening Hours: 8:00 - 19:00
Recommended Time for a Visit: 1 to 2 hours

 Recommended tour with the visit to the Shuanglin Temple:
Pingyao Ancient Town: 3 Days Visit of Pingyao popular attractions
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