Lost temple discovered after 1,000 years in China
Chinese archaeologists have found a famous temple that remained hidden for nearly a millennium in China’s southwestern Sichuan province. The Fugan Temple, located in downtown Chengdu, was a famous temple that lasted from the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317- 420) to the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). Daoxuan, a famous Tang Dynasty (618-907) monk, once wrote that an official rite to pray for rain to end a persistent drought was held in front of the temple, and it rained as if the prayers had been heard in heaven.
The story was the record of how the temple got its name, Fugan, which means “perceive the blessing.” The popular Tang Dynasty poet Liu Yuxi left a poem to commemorate the temple’s renovation, describing its heavenly appearance. The poem further noted the temple’s important role at that time, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. However, the building was worn down during the later period of the Tang and Song dynasties, with all traces of the temple disappearing during wars.
Archaeologists unearthed more than 1,000 tablets inscribed with Buddhist scriptures and over 500 pieces of stone sculpture as well as glazed tiles with inscriptions. “We have only excavated a part of the temple’s area, but already have a glimpse of its past glory,” said Yi Li, who led the excavation project. He said they have found the temple’s foundation, ruins of surrounding buildings, wells, roads and ditches.
During the excavation, archaeologists found some 80 ancient tombs scattered near the temple, dating back to Shang and Zhou dynasties (1600-256 BC). In the temple’s surroundings, they have unearthed large amounts of household tools and utensils and building materials dating back to various periods from the Song to Ming dynasties. Chengdu became an economic and cultural centre in western China during the Sui and Tang dynasties. The temple’s discovery could greatly contribute to the study of the spread of Buddhism in China during that time, said Wang Yi, director of the Chengdu Cultural Relic Research Institute.
Chengdu, the capital of China’s southwest Sichuan Province, is famed for being the home of cute giant pandas. The history of the city can be traced back 2,400 when the first emperor built his capital here and named the city. Through thousands of years its original name has been kept and its position as the capital and as the significant center of politics, commerce and military of the Sichuan area (once called Shu) has remained unchanged. Since the Han (206B.C.-220) and Tang (618-907) Dynasties when its handicraft industry flourished, the place has been famous for its brocades and embroideries. Shu embroideries still enjoy a high reputation for their bright colors and delicate designs, ranking among the four main embroideries in China.
The city was also the place where the bronze culture, an indispensable part of ancient Chinese culture, originated; the place where the Southern Silk Road started; and the place where the earliest paper currency, Jiaozi (not the dumpling!), was first printed. It is listed among the first 24 state-approved historical and cultural cities and owns 23 state and provincial cultural relic units.