White Horse Temple, Luoyang
Buddhism is the most important religion in China. It is generally believed that it was spread to China in 67 AD during the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220) from Hotan in Xinjiang to Central China. During its development in China, it has a profound influence on traditional Chinese culture and thoughts, and has become one of the most important religions in China at that time. In general, the development of this religion in China can be divided into the following periods.
The first period is in Han Dynasty when it was just introduced into China. During this period of time, many Buddhist scriptures were translated and explained. The White Horse Temple was built during this period of time and it signifies the first time of Buddhism doctrines delivered in China.
Painted Buddha Sculpture,
Mogao Caves, Dunhuang
The third period is the Sui (581-618) and Tang (618-907) Dynasties when this religion welcomed its heyday and got unprecedented development. During this period, many new Buddhist denominations were founded. The emperors of the Sui Dynasty believed in this religion, and though Tang's emperors believed in Taoism, they showed a protective and tolerant attitude toward the development of other religions. So in this period, it got a rapid and great development.
Fayu Temple on Mt. Putuoshan, Zhejiang
Three different forms of this religion evolved as it reached the centers of population at varying times and by different routes. The social and ethnic background in each location also affected the way in which each of these forms developed and eventually they became known as Han, Tibetan and Southern Buddhism.