If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

Buddhist Temples at Wutaishan

The Chinese Buddhist figures seen in the galleries at the Asian Art Museum were originally placed in temples and monastic buildings. This video explores Wutaishan, an area with one of the heaviest concentration of Buddhist temples in China. Learn more about Buddhism on the Asian Art Museum's education website. Created by Asian Art Museum.

Want to join the conversation?

Video transcript

the chinese buddhist figures seen in the galleries of the Asian Art Museum were originally placed in temples and monastic buildings one of the heaviest concentrations of historic Buddhist temples in China can be found at Wutai Shan Shan si province not far from the border of Inner Mongolia in northern China during its heyday over 1,000 years ago there were roughly 200 temples in this area today less than 50 still stand but among these are a number of significant buildings travelers approaching wutai shan from the north often stopped at the suspended in the air temple perched high on a mountain cliff the whole structure appears to dangle on the rock face with the support of a few timbers also nearby is the oldest surviving wooden pagoda in China dating from 1056 c/e nestled within the immediate area of Wutai or five peaks are numerous temples that are so extensive they appear to run into each other a major landmark is this 150 foot high great white pagoda of the taiwan temple here we see the influence of Tibetan Buddhism which was patronized by various Chinese emperors from the 1200s through the 1800s close by is the Shenton temple whose origins stretch back almost 2,000 years the principal feature here is an enticing square bronze pavilion filled with 1,000 tiny images of the Buddha the John Hay temple appears today much as it did when it was founded in 1711 this was the residence of various jeong-ja or living buddhas who were the Guru's of the kangxi emperor the emperor gave this box now in the collections of the Asian Art Museum to the second guru the ornate colors and decoration of the junghae temple are in great contrast to some of the older sites at Wutai Shan the oldest wooden structure in all of China today is this small Buddha Hall at Nanchang temple dated 782 C II the second oldest wooden structure can be found at fo Guang temple built on a steep Terrace the original much-older temple was destroyed during the persecutions of Buddhism that took place in 845 C II the present Great Eastern Hall was rebuilt in 857 C II with its elaborate bucketing system supporting a gently curved roof line it is a fine example of early Buddhist temple architecture in China a number of the temples at wutai shan are being restored and are in active use the remoteness of Wutai Shan has helped preserve the many treasures here that continue to attract intrepid pilgrims and tourists alike you