Tag Archives: Taoist

Disembodied Buddhas

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If you have been to enough Taoist or Buddhist Temples around Changzhou and other cities, you would see a lot of sculptures, carvings, and artwork displaying Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, lohans, Taoist gods, and much more. Temples are particularly ornate in the their decor.  In most cases, no two temples are alike either.

Crafting the works of art must be an industry unto itself. I only just realized this by accident. I was riding my ebike along the S232 highway in western Wujin. This is the part of the district that borders on Jiangyin. Dalin Temple and Qingming Mountain are also nearby. Out of the corner of my vision, I saw something like a Buddha sitting in an alley. So, I backed up and pulled into the alley. There, I saw something I have never, ever seen in Changzhou before. These were half finished, almost cast aside religious statues. For instance, a Buddha without a head. There was a fat Milefo laughing Buddha covered with splintered wood.

The varying degrees of incompleteness was also a bit interesting. Sometimes, when you see a statue in a temple, you may mistakenly think that they were carved or cast in a forge. Not the case with this lot. Much of what I saw consisted of smaller pieces that were numbered and riveted together almost like three-dimensional jigsaw puzzles.

This had me intrigued. It wasn’t the least bit unnerving to look it. Logically, it made sense if these was a religious sculpture workshop nearby. After all, not only is Dalin Temple nearby, but so is the Taoist Bailong Monastery — both seem to have ongoing construction for additions, too. But, quickly scanned the area. I took a picture of one factory’s name, but a Chinese friend quickly informed me, via WeChat, it was a business involving water treatment equipment. Maybe I saw it but didn’t see it. In the end, I gave up and left it what it should be, a bizarre mystery. Sometimes, that’s more fun than actually having a real answer.

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Laozi in Luoxi

IMG_20160520_181014Laozi 老子 — also known as Lao-Tze or Lao-Tzu — is one of the most central and venerated writers in Daoism. He penned the Dao De Jing, which is a foundation text in Chinese and Asian thought. If you walk into a Daoist / Taoist temple, you are bound to find a statue of this guy somewhere. He is usually smiling. You also sometimes just find statues of him in seemingly random places.

Like some figures also found in Buddhism, he can be taken in two roles. Some look up on as a philosophical figure and appreciate his thinking; others view him as a religious figure in Taoism that can be worshiped and prayed to. Laozi is often considered a contemporary of Confucius, and the two belief systems contrast. Confucius tends to be a realist, and Laozi tends to be more ideal. Confucius writes about how to fit into the social world around you, and Laozi does not. He was more interested in the greater world within. Even though he seems to be speaking of internalizing things, his statues usually have him smiling. You also sometimes just find statues of him in seemingly random places.

I found him once in a semi-abandoned Tibetan Spring Garden 藏春园 in Louxi. This is a township out towards Changzhou’s airport in Xinbei Somebody who used to live in the area once told me a restaurant used to be a main attraction, but it packed up and moved. As for the statue itself, Laozi is sitting with a young student and expounding his considerable wisdom. It was hard to get a good picture since the statue was slightly overgrown.

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