Category Archives: China

Paths of the Soul review: Blandly soothing, apolitical Buddhist ‘documentary’ quickly wears thin


Pilgrims on the 1200-mile trek through the Himalayas to Lhasa in Paths of the Soul. Photo: China Lion Entertainment

Sydney Morning Herald
OCTOBER 18 2017
Jake Wilson

PATHS OF THE SOUL ★★
(PG) 120 minutes

If you’ve never pondered the literal meaning of the word “kowtow”, you may have something to learn from the new film by Chinese director Zhang Yang (Shower), which follows a dozen or so Tibetan villagers on a 1200-mile pilgrimage through the Himalayas to Lhasa, as is Buddhist tradition.

This would be an arduous trek under any circumstances but, adding to the challenge, every few steps the pilgrims must drop onto their stomachs and touch their foreheads to the earth.

To protect their bodies, they wear leather aprons and have wooden boards strapped to their hands, generating a noise like the clicking of castanets. In the absence of a conventional score, this becomes central to the film’s soundtrack.

The pilgrims in Paths of the Soul, to protect their bodies, wear leather aprons and have wooden boards strapped to their hands. Photo: China Lion Entertainment
Paths of the Soul is not quite fiction, not quite documentary. Reports indicate that the journey we see is real, and that the non-professional cast members are playing versions of themselves.

But it also appears that Zhang has manipulated events in the manner of a reality TV producer – ensuring, for example, that a pregnant woman (Tsring Chodron​) was part of the group in order to build a sequence around the birth of her child.


Pilgrims on the 1200-mile trek through the Himalayas to Lhasa in Paths of the Soul. Photo: China Lion Entertainment

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Two Buddhist Temples in Hong Kong Designated as National Monuments

Tung Lin Kok Yuen in Hong Kong’s Happy Valley. Photo by Bill Cox

from Buddhistdoor
By BD Dipananda
2017-10-20 |

The Antiquities Advisory Board (AAB) of Hong Kong has designated two Buddhist temples—Tung Lin Kok Yuen (TLKY) Temple on Hong Kong Island and Yeung Hau Temple on Lantau Island—as monuments under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance, along with a Christian landmark—Kowloon Union Church.

“The Antiquities and Monuments Office considers that with their significant heritage value . . . the three historic buildings have reached the ‘high threshold’ to be declared as monuments,” said a representative of the AAB after the meeting in June. “Consent . . . has been obtained from the respective owners.” (South China Morning Post)

Installed in 1976, the AAB is a constitutional body of the Hong Kong government that evaluates old buildings for designation as monuments based on their historical or architectural merit. According to AAB chairman Andrew Lam: “Heritage is the fruit of a place’s culture and history. It not only reflects the historical facts but also carries our emotions. And the work of the Antiquities Advisory Board relies on professional judgment as well as public knowledge and awareness of the importance of heritage.” (Antiquities Advisory Board)

Yeung Hau Temple in Tai O. From thestandard.com.hk

Located in Happy Valley on Hong Kong Island, TLKY was founded in 1935 by Lady Clara Ho Tung (1875–1938) and her husband, the prominent businessman and philanthropist Sir Robert Ho Tung (1892–1956). TLKY contains an ancestral hall, Dharma hall, dining hall, lecture theater, library, sutra hall, and dormitories for monastics. The temple also houses a valuable collection of calligraphy and Chinese couplets. The temple building shows the influence of Western engineering of the time combined with elements of traditional Chinese architecture, with its flying attics, brackets, and glazed tile roofs. TLKY is considered one of the more prominent Buddhist temples in Hong Kong and serves as a center for the Buddhist community and a place of education for monastics. Continue reading

Lost temple discovered after 1,000 years in Chengdu

Workers at a temple site that disappeared for nearly a millennium in downtown Chengdu. [Photo: Xinhua]

Workers at a temple site that disappeared for nearly a millennium in downtown Chengdu. [Photo: Xinhua]

Xinhua, June 4, 2017

Archaeologists have spent months excavating a lost temple that disappeared for nearly a millennium in downtown Chengdu, capital of southwest China’s Sichuan Province.

The Fugan Temple was a famous temple that lasted from the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420) to the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279).

Daoxuan, a famous Tang Dynasty (618-907) monk, once wrote that an official rite to pray for rain to end a persistent drought was held in front of the temple, and it rained as if the prayers had been heard in heaven.

The story was the record of how the temple got its name, Fugan, which means “perceive the blessing.”

Famous Tang Dynasty poet Liu Yuxi left a poem to commemorate the temple’s renovation, describing its heavenly appearance. The poem further noted the temple’s important role at that time.

However, the building was worn down during the later period of the Tang and Song dynasties, with all traces of the temple disappearing during wars.

Archaeologists unearthed more than 1,000 tablets inscribed with Buddhist scriptures and over 500 pieces of stone sculpture as well as glazed tiles with inscriptions.

“We have only excavated a part of the temple’s area, but already have a glimpse of its past glory,” said Yi Li, who led the excavation project.

He said they have found the temple’s foundation, ruins of surrounding buildings, wells, roads and ditches.

During the excavation, archaeologists found some 80 ancient tombs scattered near the temple, dating back to Shang and Zhou dynasties (1600-256 BC). In the temple’s surroundings, they have unearthed large amounts of household tools and utensils and building materials dating back to various periods from the Song to Ming dynasties.

Chengdu became an economic and cultural center in western China during the Sui and Tang dynasties. The temple’s discovery could greatly contribute to the study of the spread of Buddhism in China during that time, said Wang Yi, director of the Chengdu Cultural Relic Research Institute.

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Ancient inscription discovered in northern Chinese cliff cave

Source: Xinhua| 2017-04-26 14:50:22|Editor: MJ

SHIJIAZHUANG, April 26 (Xinhua) — Chinese archaeologists have discovered an ancient inscription carved in a cliff cave in northern China’s Hebei Province, believed to be a place of seclusion for a renowned Shaolin monk, local authorities said Wednesday.

Dating back to more than 1,400 years ago, the inscription is made up of eight big Chinese characters and several lines of smaller characters, saying “Master Sengchou once lived here for a life of religious seclusion,” according to the cultural heritage administration of Cixian County.

The inscription was carved on a smooth mountain wall in a cave near Beiyangcheng Village of Baitu Township and remains well-preserved, according to the administration.
Cultural relics scholars believe that an ancient ruin in a mountain near the village might be the temple where Sengchou promoted Zen Buddhism.

According to historical records, Sengchou was born in Hebei’s Changli County and good at martial arts. Later, he learned Buddhist doctrine at the Shaolin Temple, the birthplace of Zen Buddhism and widely believed to be a cradle of Chinese kungfu. He played a significant role in the tradition of Shaolin monks practicing martial arts.

“The discovery offers precious materials to study the history of local Buddhism and the Northern Qi Dynasty,” said Liu Xinchang, head of the history association of Handan city.

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Jade Buddha Temple shows thangka art

Shanghai Daily, By Bob Yang | March 21, 2017, Tuesday

SHANGHAI’S Jade Buddha Temple yesterday launched a free exhibition of thangka art and traditional Chinese paintings about Buddhism.

About 20 paintings from Tibetan Buddhism master LuoZangDanBa and renowned Buddhism painter Li Tang are being exhibited at the temple through to Sunday.

Visitors would be able to witness the cultural heritages and beauty of Tibetan Buddhism through the exhibition, a temple official said.

As the highlight of the exhibition, six original works of the medieval Tibetan art of thangka — minutely detailed paintings depicting Buddhist deities or symbols — from the master are being showcased.

LuoZangDanBa, who is also a national intangible cultural heritage inheritor, began to study painting in thangka style when he was 5 years old. Li, the other artist of the exhibition, is director of the Buddhism art and culture research center with Peking University.

Visitors can enter the temple via Jiangning Road in Putuo District to view the exhibition. No entrance ticket is required.

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Goldberg Lecturer to examine duplication in Chinese sculpture

Buddha, gilt bronze, dated 537, Eastern Wei Dynasty, h. 22 cm, Berenson Art Collection, Villa I Tatti – The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies.

Vanderbilt News, by Ann Marie Deer Owens | Mar. 20, 2017, 9:45 AM

Duke University’s Stanley Abe will discuss duplication in Chinese sculpture March 23 at Cohen Hall

The study of duplication in Chinese sculpture from ancient times to the present is the focus of a lecture by Stanley Abe at Vanderbilt’s Cohen Hall March 23.

Abe, associate professor of art and art history at Duke University, will deliver the Norman L. and Roselea J. Goldberg Lecture in Art History at 4:10 p.m. in Room 203. A reception in the Cohen atrium will follow Abe’s talk.

“In China, identical sets of figures, serial images, replications in archaic styles, and later copies were produced over a long period of time,” Abe said. “New works were provided with ancient inscriptions; old objects could be inscribed anew. In modern times, forgeries meant to deceive collectors proliferated.”

Abe has published on Chinese Buddhist art, contemporary Chinese art, Asian American art, abstract expressionism and the collecting of Chinese sculpture. He is now writing a narrative account of how Chinese sculpture came into existence as a category of “fine art” during the late-19th and early-20th centuries.

“The study of duplication suggests a way to understand the history of Chinese sculpture as more than a series of unique masterpieces,” Abe said. “However, attention to duplication raises many questions and issues for further study.”

Abe received the Shimada Prize for Ordinary Images (University of Chicago Press, 2002), a richly illustrated book that explores the large body of sculpture, paintings and other religious imagery produced for China’s common classes from the third to the sixth centuries CE. The Shimada Prize is awarded for distinguished scholarship in the history of East Asian art by the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and by The Metropolitan Center for Far Eastern Art Studies in Kyoto, Japan.

Sponsored by the Department of History of Art, the Goldberg Lecture is free and open to the public. Parking is available in Lot 95 outside of Cohen Hall. For more information, call the department at 615-322-2831.

Fay Renardson contributed to this story.

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Airport to close for expansion near China’s Dunhuang caves

Source: Xinhua | February 20, 2017, Monday | ONLINE EDITION

THE Dunhuang airport, located near the Mogao Caves, which contain some of China’s finest ancient Buddhist art, will be closed between March 15 and May 25 for an expansion project aimed at coping with a growing tourist influx.

The 976-million-yuan (US$142 million) expansion project, which began in 2016, will enable the airport to handle an annual capacity of 960,000 passengers and 1,700 tons of cargo.

The airport will close to allow for revamping of the runway and enlarging airport aprons, said the airport on Monday.

The 1,600-year-old Mogao Caves are home to more than 2,000 colored sculptures and 45,000 square meters of frescoes. They are located in a series of 735 caves carved along a cliff in northwest China’s Gansu Province along the ancient Silk Road route. In 1987, the site became China’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In recent years, tourist numbers to the caves have soared thanks to their growing fame both at home and abroad.

The Buddhist site received more than 8 million domestic and foreign visitors in 2016, up 21.37 percent year on year.

Since 2014, the Mogao Caves have set a daily limit of 6,000 reserved tickets plus an extra 12,000 emergency tickets to cater to the growing number of tourists during the peak travel season.

Transportation infrastructure has been built to cope with the large passenger flow. In addition to the airport expansion, easier transport links to Dunhuang were launched last year, including new trains from Beijing, and Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

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