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 CCTV.com. 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. 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.
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