Leshan Giant Buddha

Leshan Giant Buddha, the largest stone sculpture of Buddha in the world, sits at the confluence of the Minjiang, Dadu and Qingyi rivers. According to records, the carving of this giant Buddha was begun in the in the first year of the reign of the Tang Emperor Tang Xuanzong (713 AD), and completed in the 19th year of Emperor Dezong (803 AD), a total of 90 years.

Taking the shape of a Maitreya(see note below) he is depicted barefooted with drooping ears and has his hair arranged in a spiral topknot. His chest is exposed and his hands rest on his knees. Carved from the side of the Lingyun Hill, with his head level with the cliff top, the gigantic stone sculpture faces Mt. Emeishan, with the rivers flowing below his feet.

Looking dignified and solemn, the Buddha measures 71 meters in height. His shoulders are 28 meters across. The head is 14.7 metes long and 10 meters broad with total 1021 buns of hair on it. The instep, which is 8.5 meters wide, can accommodate 100 people. The toe is large enough to accommodate a dinner table. Taller by 17 meters than the standing Buddha in Afghanistan, Leshan Giant Buddha is therefore the tallest Buddha in the world and in 1996, it was added to the World Natural and Cultural Heritage List.

Derivation of the Giant Buddha According to historical records, Leshan Giant Buddha was hewn during the prosperous Tang Period (618 - 907).
It was said there was a river monster that lived at this spot. He often caused floods that capsized passing boats and took cost many lives. In order to subdue the waters and save lives, Master Haitong, a Buddhist abbot of the Lingyun Monastery, raised the necessary funds and commenced the construction of the Giant Buddha. He hoped that the presence of the Great Buddha would subdue the monster and so pacify the swift currents thereby protecting the boatmen who traversed the treacherous river.
Directed by Master Haitong, the construction work began in 713. However, on the first day of construction, an avaricious official had his eye on the money and tried to blackmail the abbot. Master Haitong defied him and said: You could gouge out my eyes but not touch the money donated to build the Buddha. The official flew into a rage and dared him to do it. Master Haitong gouged out his own eyes and presented them in a tray to the official. The man fled in awe and terror.
Master Haitong died when the work was only half done. Zang Chou and Wei Gao, two of his disciples, continued the work. After 90 years ' effort, the Buddha was finally completed in 803. It is impossible to know how, without the aid of modern equipment, people in those ancient times managed to design and create such a grand statue!

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