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Engraved tablet inside hidden compartment of thousand-hand bodhisattva statue

The engraved tablet found inside hidden compartment of thousand-hand Bodhisattva statue


Archaeologists found a treasure within a treasure when they discovered a hidden chamber in the abdomen of the Qianshou Guanyin sculpture (Thousand-hand Bodhisattva) on Mount Baoding in Dazu district in Southwest China, according to a report on The compartment contained engraved tablets, golden foil, grain, jewellery, and pieces of porcelain in a finding which scholars have described as ‘immensely significant’.

The Dazu Rock carvings, which date from the 9 th to the 13 th century, were listed as a World Culture Heritage Site in 1999 by UNESCO.  It has a staggering 50 thousand religious statues on site, which vividly reflect the everyday life in ancient China and are an example of the fusion of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. The carvings are known for their grand scale, aesthetic quality and rich diversity of subject matter as well as for being well preserved.

Dazu Rock Carvings

Dazu Rock Carvings. Credit: Ko Hon Chiu Vincent

The 800-year-old thousand-hand Bodhisattva is the most famous among the Dazu Rock Carvings. At 7.7 meter high and 12.5 meter wide, the Thousand-Hand Bodhisattva sits calmly with an eye in each hand in different positions, and holding different sacred vessels such as the treasure mirror, rosary, scarf, treasure vase, lotus and the treasure sword, representing the many abilities to watch out and render assistance to the people in the world. Up until 2009, it was widely believed to have 1007 hands. However, a recount in recent years proved the number of hands to be 830, making it the statue with the most number of hands in the world.

Thousand hand Bodhisattva

The thousand-hand Bodhisattva, which contained the hidden chamber. Photo source.

The tablets found within the hidden chamber earlier this year contain red engravings, which have been dated to the reign of Emperor Qianlong, over 300 years ago. Still legible, they are believed to be prayers for blessings and good fortune.

The find is regarded by scholars as historically significant, as it is the first time that an object with a clear indication of date has been uncovered in the Dazu Rock Carvings.

Featured image: Employees conduct an investigation and study on sealing brick inscription from the “dark cell” of the Qianshou Guanyin sculpture (bodhisattva with a thousand hands) on Mount Baoding in Chongqing’s Dazu district in Southwest China. Credit: Luo Guojia/asianewsphoto

By April Holloway



Kwan Yin or Kannon i.e. Avalokiteshwara

Aksayamati (Saraswathi), the Bodhisatva of Infinite Mind, questioned Lord Budha in a "gatha":
"O honoured by the World, endowed with the mystic marks,
Let me enquire about her,
Child of The Consciousness (Parabrahma-The Supreme Creator), why is She called
Kwan-yin, who hears the Cries of the World?"

Lord Budha spoke these gathas:
"Listen to the deeds of Kwan-yin,
Who wholly responds in every direction,
Her all-embracing vow is deep as the sea,
Inconceivable in its Kalpas beyond reckoning,
Serving thousands of millions of Budhas (consciousnesses/divinities),
She has intoned the great pure vow.
I will tell you briefly:
Whoever hears her name, whoever sees her
And remembers her unceasingly,
Will extinguish the sorrows of existence.

She is ever longed for, ever sought after,
The spotless pure ray of light,
The Sun of wisdom dispelling darkness,
Subduer of misfortune of wind and fire
Who illuminates all the world,
The Law of Mercy, and clarifying thunder,
The numinous cloud of compassion
Pouring forth spiritual rain like sweet nectar (amrutha)
To quench the flames of agony.

The wondrous voice of Kwan-yin,
The Brahman-voice, voice of the sweeping tide,
Surpassing the sounds of the world,
Is to be held firm in the mind.
Unaccompanied by even the shadow of doubt.
For one who is pure, Kwan-yin,
In every pain, suffering and even death,
Can be a centre of reliance.
Perfect in every attainment,
Whose compassionate eye beholds all beings,
A boundless ocean of blessings-
Prostrate, let all revere Kwan-Yin"

Thereupon the Bodhisattva Dharanidhara (Vishnu), Holder of the Earth, arose, came forward and addressed the Budha: "O Honoured of the World! Whosoever hears of the sovereign work of Kwan-yin, such a one will have great merit". And all present set their minds upon perfect enlightenment.

1007 might be a symbolic number. There is a festival Bodhisattva & the Bull festival also called 1007 Swell Festival.

angieblackmon's picture

i wonder who messed up the counting the first time! lol. miscounting by a few might be expected, but miss counting by nearly 200 seems like a major error!

love, light and blessings


what are they made of? especially the thousand hand Bodhisattva? and tablet?

aprilholloway's picture


April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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