When the Huayan monasteries were founded under the Liao dynasty in the 11th century, they were a single unit. It was divided into two parts until the 16th century: the Upper monastery and the Lower monastery. The Huayan monastery radiated during this period because it was of the royal family.
Now, the Upper and Lower monasteries are connected, but each has a main hall. The main hall of the Upper monastery is the Hall of Sakyamuni. First built in 1062 under the Liao, the hall was destroyed and rebuilt in 1140 by Jin. It is one of the largest Buddha halls of the Liao period still existing in China. On top of the hall are color paintings from the Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasties (1644 – 1911) portraying dragons, cranes, and flowers, all are images often found in Chinese legends on Buddhism.
The Lower Huayan Monastery is arranged around the Bhagavat Teaching Library, the oldest building still visible, built-in 1038. The balanced architecture supports a complex framework forming strange tangles thanks to eight different types of assembly. The statue consists of 31 pieces including 29 from the Liao period representing the Buddha of the three ages, his disciples, arhats, and bodhisattvas. The whole is beautiful and exudes a certain sensual serenity. The wooden sutra cupboards are the oldest in China. There are 38 of them distributed around the statues and represent the facade of a palace with its carved wooden corbels that support awnings, cornices, and slatted balconies.
Adjoining, the Datong Museum brings together collections and objects dating back to the oldest of the Northern Wei.
Chinese Name: 华严寺
Location: No.459 Xiaposi Street, Datong Old Town, Shanxi Province
High season (01/04-31/10): 8h30-16h10
Low season (01/11-31/03): 8h30-17h00
Ticket: 65 RMB/pers. (high season), 40 RMB/per. (low season).
Recommended time of visit: 1.5-2 hours
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