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Huayan Monastery

huayan-monasteryThe Huayan Monastery, to the west of the town center, is one of the few well-preserved sacred buildings from the Liao period.

huayan-monastery01In the city of Datong, a secondary capital under both Liao ( 907-1125) and Jin (1115-1234) two important temples stand side by side: Lower Huayan Temple was completed in 1038 under the Liao and still virtually intact, and Upper Huayan Temple, rebuilt after a fire in 1140, although the five great Buddhas were remade in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and the frescoes repainted late in the nineteenth century.

Huanyan temple shows the artistic style of the Liao and Jin dynasties. Its construction broke the rule of facing south, as it faces east. According to the story of Khitan of the five dynasties, three thousand li north of youzhou, there is a town called Xilouyi where all the houses face east. Khitans regarded east as superior and prayed to the east on the first day of every lunar month. It was following this rule that Huanyan Temple was built. The Daxiong hall of the temple is the main hall of the temple and is also one of the biggest in china, covering an area of 1559 square meters. The hall is splendid inside; five stately and golden Buddhas sit on the altar. On the walls inside the hall there are murals about the story of reaching nine times in seven different places. The patterns of the embellished ceiling are different from one another and are magically beautiful.

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