Culture of Jiuhua Mountain
The monks studied both Buddhism and Chinese literature. Scripture of Earth Buddha written by Jin Qiaojue was chanted by later buddhists. Monks Shen Ying, Ying Wu, Leng Ran and Qi Ji were all poets in the Tang Dynasty. In the Song Dynasty Monk Qing Su held Jiuhua Poets Association, and Monk Xi Tan compiled Jiuhua Collection of poems.
Many famous poets and artists have visited Jiuhua Mountain, including Li Bai, Liu Yuxi, Du Mu, Mei Yaochen, Wang Anshi, Wen Tianxiang, Tang Xianzu, Zhang Daqian. Some of their authentic works of painting and calligraphy remain today, and are preserved in Jiuhua Museum of Buddhism Relics.
Among the cultural relics, there are many stone carved reproduction of inscription, scattered along the way from Minyuan Garden to Tiantai Platform. Most inscriptions are related to Buddhism. Some stone tablets which record the building of the temples support the research of the history of Buddhism at Jiuhua Mountain. Buddhism Chops are a distinguished feature of the mountain, such as Nine-dragon Golden Chop, Nine-dragon Bronze Chop, Lion-button Bronze Chop, Dragon-button Bronze Chop and Nine-lion Jade Chop. Buddhist scriptures are important relics. Three from the Qing Dynasty, the statues, instruments and temples are all priceless.
Structures of the Temples
THE GRAND HALL
The Grand Hall of Qiyuan Temple is 43m high. A huge horizontal board inscribed with gilded "Grand Hall" by Yu Youren, a famous calligrapher, hangs over the entrance. In the center of the hall there is a lotus throne, on which sit three giant images of Buddha, each about 20ft high and all gilded, Tathagata in the middle, Amitabha on the left, and "Medicine Master" on the right. They are the biggest of all images of Buddha in the Jiuhua temples. On either side of the central throne stand nine 3m-high images of arhat. In front of the hall there is an inverted copper bell about 400 jin in weight.
Qiyuan Temple, or Qiyuan Buddhist Temple, known in the ancient times as Qiyuan or Zhishu, is one of the four biggest Buddhist monasteries in the mountain. According to legend, Sakyamuni preached Buddhism in the garden of Qiyuan for over 20 years. Therefore Qiyuan used to be the sacred place of the Indian Buddhism. The temple was built afterwards and named after the place. Constructed in the years under Jiajing's reign (1522-1566) in the Ming Dynasty, it was renovated several times between 1644 and 1911 in the Qing Dynasty.
Huacheng Temple was the first temple in Jiuhua Mountain. With the longest history and as the site of Ksitigarbha Rite, it is the leading monastery of the mountain. In the 5th year under Longan's reign (401) in the Eastern Jin Dynasty. Monk Beidu built a simple temple here. It was reconstructed and named Huacheng Temple in the Zhide years (756 - 758) of the Tang Dynasty. The word Huacheng is an allusion to a Buddhist story in the Fahua Scripture.
Huacheng Temple is located in Jiuhua Street. Right in front of the temple lies a round plaza. In the center of the plaza is a crescent shaped lotus pond named "Crescent Moon Pond", into which, it is believed, Monk Jin QiaoJue used to free captive fish. The temple consists of four parts: the lobby, the grand hall, the back hall and the Scripture Tower. The ground slopes up with each part and the whole layout is natural. The doors, windows, brackets. beams, columns, steps and the cornerstone are carved with exquisite designs, In the hall are preserved horizontal boards inscribed by emperors: "Sacred Land of Jiuhua" by Kangxi, "Fentuopujiao" by Qianlong, and "Beneficence Most Enjoyable" by Chongzhen.
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