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Two Sutra Pillars in Lingyin Temple


The two sutra pillars are located in the eastern and western sides of the Hall of the Heavenly Kings. The sutra pillar at the eastern side is 7.17 meters high while the one at the western side is 11 meters, both of which are with multi-layers of an eight-sided shape and each has a base course of a two-layer Sumeru throne. Sutras are inscribed on the body of the pillars: U??i?a Vijaya Dhara?i Sutra is carved on the left pillar, which is so called “The Venerable Pagoda”; while Great Freedom Dhara?i Sutra is carved on the right pillar, which is so called “Great Freedom Pagoda”. In addition, on the body of each sutra pillar, there is a baldachin, waist eaves, beads, lotus, canopies, clouds and rocks. Vividly carved on the rocks is Kalavivka with palms together and wings on his back.

the sutra pillars were built in 969, originally located in Fengxian Temple – the home temple of the country of Wu and Yue, which collapsed later. In 1053, they were moved to Lingyin Temple by the abbot Yanshan, so on the body such an inscription can be found: “Moved from Fengxian Temple, by Zen Master Yanshan, the abbot of Lingyin, in November of the 2nd year of Jingyou Period”.

Sutra pillars were originally the prayer flags of Chinese ancient guard of honor, made by a pole with silk fabrics, also called sutra flags. Due to the introduction of Buddhism from India, sutras were carved on stone pillars, which then were called sutra pillars. A sutra pillar generally consists of a top, a body and a base course, and the main part is the body, with mantras, sutras or Buddhist statues of Vajrayana Buddhism carved on it.

 

 

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