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Bamboo Temple is considered as the Buddhist resort in Kunming, situated on the Yu’an Mountain, about 12 kilometers in the northeast of the city. It is highly reputed for its 500 or more colorful clay sculptures of Buddhist arhats, and attracts tourists both from home and abroad every year.
Since located in the wooded mountain, the temple has an amazing natural scenery. Four ancient Cypress trees stand on both sides of the temple, with streams and brooks winding through the woods and making joyful sounds. Stepping into the temple, you will see the designed courtyard and the Hall of Mahavira. At the back of the temple, you will see a sea of green bamboo. That is the so-called Qiongzhu, a kind of bamboo. It is said that the temple was first built by two brothers during Tang Dynasty, but burnt down in the later years. It was mainly restored and expanded in the 1980s, and then into the present temple.
As to the famous Buddhist arhats in the Bamboo Temple, it is said that they were made by Li Guangxiu, a famous craftsman from Sichuan Province, with his apprentices during the reign of Emperor Guangxu (1875-1909). They spent nearly seven years preparing these sculptures, which are displayed beside the central Buddha in the Hall of Mahavira. Each of the clay arhats is only one meter tall, but quite realistic and lifelike. They have vividly shown the gamut of human emotions.
Entering this temple, it really seems to be a sculpture exhibition, which not only displays works of sculpture, but shows the craftsmanship of ancient Chinese sculptors. Since the temple is also known as the “Sculptured pearls in the oriental treasure-house”, we recommend that you’d better not miss this wonder.