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Foguang Temple

The Foguang Temple is located in the half mountainside of Foguang Mountain 25 kilometers northeast of Wutai Mountain in Shanxi Province.

Facing the west, the Foguang Temple is surrounded by hills in east, south and north. The temple boasts more than 120 halls, rooms, buildings and pavilions. According to the record in Old Qingliang Memoir, the Foguang Temple was first built during the reign (471-499) of Emperor Xiaowen of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534). It became very prosperous during the Sui and Tang dynasties (581-907) and famous in Chang'an, Dunhuang and even in Japan. The temple was destroyed in the fifth year (845) of the Huichang reign in the Tang Dynasty (618-907) when Emperor Wuzong took many measures to destroy Buddhism, and the temple was rebuilt in 11th year (857) of the Dazhong reign.

The eastern hall, built in the 11th year (857) of the Dazhong reign, is the main building of the temple, and it is seven-bay wide in the front and four-bay deep. The five rooms in the middle of under the front eave of the hall are installed with big wooden doors, and the two rooms in each side and two in the back are installed with straight lattice windows. The bottom of the walls in the hall is painted with 500 arhats of the Mingde reign of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

The pagoda for the founder of the temple, located on the south side of the east hall, was built in the Northern Qi Dynasty (550-577). The pagoda with a hexagonal plane is built of black bricks, is 8 meters high, and has two storeys. The first storey is empty inside, and has an arch door right on the west side, which is decorated with patterns of flamboyant lotuses on the top. The other five sides of the pagoda body are plane and simple. Each corner of the top floor has a leaning column of lotus style and the front side is decorated with false flamboyant arch door. The top, bottom and body of the corner columns are all decorated with the bundled lotus flowers rich in the features of the Indian Buddhist stone carvings. This pagoda temple has very unique patterns, the upward lotus is used as the base of the pagoda and the upward lotus is holding a six-petal treasure bottle, the cover of which is covered with two layers of lotus petals with a precious pearl on the cover. The pattern and the architecture style of the whole pagoda are very unique among ancient pagodas in China. This fills the gap of real Buddhist pagodas in the mid Southern and Northern Dynasties Period (386-581) and became the only extant real object of early architecture of that period.

The Foguang Temple also treasures up carved Sutras of the Wei (220-265), Qi (479-502), Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties, which are all very precious cultural relics of significant research value.

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