Shuanglin Temple

Shuanglin (Double-Grove) Temple, was originally named Zhongdu Temple. In the North Song Dynasty, in order to commemorate the saying of the ancestor of Buddhism Sakyamuni that "to extinguish into two groves", the temple changed its name Shuanglin Temple, means double grove temple. It was rebuilt in the 2nd year of Wuping Period (the year 571) in the state of North Qi. After the successive repairs in later dynasties, what have been preserved by now are mostly works of Ming dynasty.

The whole architecture complex is south-oriented, and covers an area of 15,000 square kilometers. In the east there are Buddhist courtyards and sutra room, which are still to be further exploited. In the west there is temple group, which is a three-row courtyard made up of ten different halls. The locust trees of Tang dynasty, the stelea of Song dynasty, the bells of Ming dynasty and the mural paintings enhance o­ne another’s beauty, thus forming a uniquely wonderful scene. All the works, more than 1,500 statues, are wood modeled mud sculptures, which inherit the good traditions of painted sculpture in Tang, Song, Jin and Yuan dynasties and which are the most outstanding works among the sculptures of Ming dynasty. For this reason, it is praised by experts as the "Art treasury of oriental painted sculptures".

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he sculptures include figures of Buddha,Bodhisattva, the great heavenly king, the celestial officers and all kinds of earthly figures of the world. Among these sculptures, the sitting statue of Guanyu in the middle part of Wusheng (the God of Battle) Hall has been preserved in good conditiosn; in Arhat Hall there is a vivid sculpture of mute arhat, who closes his mouth tightly, and who is pop-eyed with great anger. The disappointed expression in his eyes seems to indicate that it is painful for the mute arhat not to say anything when he has seen all the unfair matters in the world. He is so anxious that his chest and belly heave greatly as if he is breathing hastily. The statue vividly presents the momentary facial expression and the inner feeling of the mute arhat’s vexation but helplessness. In the Bodhisattva Hall, the thousand-hand Bodhisattva looks so gentle, peaceful and graceful. Her arms are round and chubby, which is in great harmony with the proportion of the whole body and which look so natural, not being artificial at all. For this reason, this sculpture can be said to be an excellent work, which has achieved great harmony and idealness. In the Thousand-Buddha Hall, the whole statue of "Weituo", especially the lumbar part looks quite exaggerated in the design which is uncomparable by human body. But instead of giving us a feeling of artificialness and awkwardness, it looks powerful with great sense of movement. The whole statue present itself in an S curve from the top to the bottom, giving people an expression of great force and strength. The subject matter of the painted sculpture in Shuanglin Temple is about Buddhism. The great ancient artists did not confine themselves to the boundary of religion, instead they endowed the religious figures with human characteristics, thus achieve the unification of the deity and human beings, the form and the spirits.

Shuanglin (the Double-Grove) Temple was declared as the major sites to be protected for its historical and cultural value under state protection in 1988, and in 1997 it was include in the World Heritage List together with other major scenic spots such as the city wall of the Ancient City of Pingyao and Zhenguosi Temple. The UNESCO called it "A real, unique treasure".