The Giant Buddha of Leshan – Sichuan, China
Look at the size of that statue! I’m at Mount Enmei in the Sichuan Province of China, and behind me is the largest stone Buddha in the world! The Giant Buddha of Leshan is a 71m high statue of Bodhisattva Maitreya, carved out of a hillside in the 8th century! It looks down on the confluence of three rivers and is big enough for one hundred people to sit on. The shoulder alone is big enough to be a basketball court!
The locals tell me that the statue has a very interesting backstory. Long ago, the confluence was a site for many accidents, and the people worried that it was due to an enraged water spirit. A monk named Hai Tong built the statue to calm the water spirits, also ensuring that the statue would add the fallen stones from the carving would reduce the water force and thus, reduce accidents! Clever move, wasn’t it? It’s also said that Hai Tong was so dedicated to this cause that he would sooner give up his eyeballs than give up on the project! While he didn’t see the project completed in his lifetime, his disciples finished the project and the statue was finally built after 90 years of hard work.
The statue also has amazing architectural artistry! I’ve been told that the coiled hair has 1021 buns! And, the statue also serves as a drainage system with gutters hidden in folds of clothes and behind arms and legs.
With such beauty and utility, it is no wonder that UNESCO has undertaken the responsibility of its maintenance.
I feel a sense of calm just being near this masterpiece!
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