Upper Hua Yan Monastery

Because there are two monasteries with the same name, the Chinese describe them as “upper” and “lower” to distinguish one from the other. A Buddhist sect known as Hua Yan was established during the Tang Dynasty and the monasteries are named after it.

The main hall was built in A.D.1064 and was rebuilt, after a fire had destroyed it, in1140. It is known as the Great Temple of Powerful Treasure, or Da Xiong Bao Dian. A rare feature of the building is its orientation: it faces east rather than south probably because it was built by the Liao.

The main temple is one of the two largest Buddhist temples currently standing in China. It has an austere style, a straight roof, bare wafts except for the entrance bay which has three wooden doors, and lacks any ornamentation apart from the traditional figures at either end of the roof line. The style is quite different from that of temples built under the Song, Ming, or Qing.

When erasing the terrace to the temple entrance no e the distinctive incense burner dating from the Ming Dynasty. Above the entrance hangs a panel with characters in Chinese giving the name of the temple.

On entering you will be confronted by five large statues of he Buddha, the m dd e three carved ill wood and the two at either end of terracotta. Thee and the statues around the wall all date from the middle fifteenth century (Ming). There are also a number of tablets, each supported by a giant stone tortoise.

The vivid frescoes on the rear wall date from the Qing; but note where a small section of the two-inch-thick clag covering has been chipped away to reveal Ming frescoes underneath.

The buildings of the lower monastery were first erected in the seventh year of the Liao Dynasty, A.D. 1038, but the present buildings date from the Ming and Qing One of the original Laio build rigs has survived, the magnificent library which houses the books in what appears to be a miniature city carved out of dark wood. The architectural style is believed to be a faithful reproduction of the two-story houses that existed in the eleventh century. These carvings have been of great value to students of ancient architecture.

The frescoes and sculptures inside this small building are said to date from the Liao and therefore form an important part of China’s artistic heritage. In 1971 the building was classified as an ancient historic monument.