Sunday, September 7, 2008

Puning Temple

The Puning Temple , or Temple of Universal Peace of Chengde, Hebei province, China is a Qing Dynasty era Buddhist temple complex built in 1755, during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor to show the Qing's respect to the ethnic minorities. It is located near the Chengde Mountain Resort, and alongside the equally famed Putuo Zongcheng Temple, it is one of the "Eight Outer Temples" of Chengde. Much how the Putuo Zongcheng Temple was modeled after the Tibetan Potala Palace, the Puning Temple was modeled after the Samye Monastery, the sacred Lamaist site in Tibet. The front temple was constructed in the Chinese style, although the temple complex follows both Chinese and Tibetan architectural styles. The Puning Temple also houses the world's tallest wooden sculpture of the Bodhisattva Avalokite& , hence the Puning Temple is often nicknamed the "Big Buddha Temple". The complex features temple halls, pavilions, drum towers and bell towers.


giant wooden Bodhisattva of Puning Temple; .]]
Since the 17th century, during the late Chinese Ming Dynasty, the Dzungar people of northwestern China were engaged in a civil war and conflicts with other nomadic horse-archer groups in the region. The later Qianlong Emperor dispatched an army to Yili in order to suppress their resistance against the Qing Dynasty. The Chinese attacked Kulja and captured the ruling Dzungar . After the conquest, Emperor Qianlong personally inscribed his writing on a tablet that is located in the stele pavilion of the Puning Temple. This stele of 1755, called the ''Puning Sibei'', commemorated the founding of the temple and the conquering of the Dzungars. Qianlong ordered for the building of this new Temple of Universal Peace, a symbol of the emperor's ambition to maintain peace among various ethnic minorities and a stable environment within the northwestern regions. The historian Waley-Cohen calls Chengde "a crucial location for the exhibition of Manchu power and the representation of Qing imperial knowledge," being the location of the summer capital. Since the Dzungar were followers of Lamaism, the temple was built in imitation of Samye monastery, the sacred place of Lamaism in Tibet.

The large wooden Buddhist statue of the Bodhisattva Avalokite& within the main hall of the Puning Temple is one of its most renowned features. It shows a thousand different eyes and a thousand different arms stretched out from its frame . The statue itself is made from five kinds of wood, including pine, cypress, elm, fir, and linden.

As of 1994, the Chengde Mountain Resort and Chengde's Eight Outer Temples were established as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Today, the Puning Temple remains a site of tourist attraction and local festivities.


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