Among the many temples in the hills west of Beijing there is one, the Fahai Si temple, where some of the most extraordinary ancient art works are to be found. The temple is dated to the early years of the Ming Dynasty when the now famous 236.7 square metres of Buddhist inspired frescos were also painted. Funded by a rich eunuch who hired artists from the imperial court to execute the paintings, the temple is said to have taken five years to complete. The return to a more natural style of painting and Song Dynasty inspired landscape, flower and bird compositions, the use of vivid colours and new techniques are reflected in the backdrops and the richly adorned male and female figures in graceful flowing attire in cloud and garden settings. The beautiful and colourful depiction of the figures in fluid poses speaks much of the skill of the artists of the period.
The realistically depicted figures of deities and their attendants show influences of Tibetan Buddhism which was popular at court at the time. The frescos are in the Mahavira Hall of the temple which is among the few surviving structures. Figures of Indra and Brahma are found side by side on the north wall depicted in finery suited to a Ming court procession. Frescos of the Buddhas of the Ten Directions and their Bodhisatva attendants float delicately above a garden on the other walls. On the rear alter screen are figures of the principle deities Guanyin, Samanathabhadra and Manjusri.
The women’s ornaments and the armour on the male figures are highlighted in gold thread using a special technique of the time. The ceiling of the temple is decorated with three large Mandala and other symbols linked to the Tibetan form of Buddhism. The temple was only recently opened to the public after painstaking restoration work. These exquisite works of art ‘are a must see’ for those with an interest in oriental art.
With a history in hospitality in the city stretching back more than a hundred years Raffles Beijing Hotel is the ideal place to stay to enjoy the diverse attractions of an ancient city. As one of the key Beijing luxury hotels, not only do guests have easy access to business, shopping, entertainment and cultural areas of the city, they also have a choice of tastefully designed contemporary rooms and suites catering to the needs of modern travellers. In addition to this are the outstanding restaurants and bars serving authentic local and a range of international cuisine and relaxing leisure spaces. Stay at this remarkable Beijing hotel to enjoy one of the world’s great cities and to take advantage of the hotel’s many luxuries.