Mount Emei Scenic Area, 
including Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area (1996)

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The first Buddhist temple in China was built here in Sichuan Province in the 1st century A.D. in the beautiful surroundings of the summit Mount Emei. The addition of other temples turned the site into one of Buddhism's holiest sites. Over the centuries, the cultural treasures grew in number. The most remarkable is the Giant Buddha of Leshan, carved out of a hillside in the 8th century and looking down on the confluence of three rivers. At 71 m high, it is the largest Buddha in the world. Mount Emei is also notable for its exceptionally diverse vegetation, ranging from subtropical to subalpine pine forests. Some of the trees there are more than 1,000 years old. 

"Emei Shan" means literally translated "The Mountain of the Eyebrow's Bow".  (The Chinese word "shan" means mountain". 

  China 1984. Mount Emei. Baoquo Temple, built in the 16th century. China 1984. Mount Emei. Leiyin Temple. China 1984. Mount Emei. Hongchun Lawn.

In Emei Shan, under good climatic conditions, it is possible sometimes to observe a remarkable phenomenon on the mountain peak at Jinding, at 3100 m altitude.  If the sun is "situated correctly", it is possible to see one's own shadow in the clouds beneath the peak, with an aura of pastel-shaded rainbow-colours around the silhouette.  The Buddhist pilgrims, of which there are many, interpret this as a special "sign" and often throw themselves out from the peak in order to land in the arms of their own shadow, expecting that this act will lead them directly to Nirvana, which they have been waiting for such a long time.  

China 1984. Mount Emei. Elephant Bath Pool. China 1984. Mount Emei. Woyun Temple. China 1984. Mount Emei. Shining Cloud Sea at Jinding.

Leshan Giant Buddha, the largest carved stone Buddha of the world, is situated in the west cliff of Lingyun Mountain of Leshan, Sichuan Province. According to historical records, a notable monk named Haitong started its construction in 713 AD (the first year of the reign of Kaiyuan) of the Tang Dynasty. The work took 90 years. When it was new, the statue was covered with gold and colourful painting, with a thirteen-story pavilion to shield it. The pavilion was first called Giant Buddha Pavilion, then renamed Tianning Pavilion in the Song Dynasty, and eventually fell apart in the late Ming Dynasty. 

China 2003. Souvenir sheet. Leshan Giant Buddha. The statue has witnessed 1,200 years of vicissitudes.

The Giant Buddha is located where the Minjiang, Qingyijiang and Daduhe rivers converge. Carved in the cliff, it is 71 metres high, its head reaching the top of the mountain and its feet resting on the riverside. Its instep is spacious enough for more than 100 people. In the viewers' eyes, the stately, imposing, magnificent statue is a mountain, and the mountain a statue of Buddha. 

Sources and links: 

Other World Heritage Sites in China (on this site). Inactive links are not described on stamps. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, section China for further information about the individual properties.  

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Revised 20 jun 2007  
Copyright 1999 Heindorffhus
All Rights Reserved