The Temple of Bright Filial Piety in Guangzhou is regarded as one of the most resplendent and significant shrines in China, with a historical legacy stretching back no less than 1,700 years. Originally constructed during the rule of the Western Han Dynasty as an individual residence, the site was used an instruction hall for some time before being transformed into a Zen Buddhist shrine during the reign of the Southern Song Dynasty.
Many influential Buddhist monks and scholars have studied and resided at this location. Especially notable among these is Hui Neng, Zen Buddhism’s renowned sixth master who cut his hair and joined the monkhood here.
The distinctive design of this place of worship and the cultural artifacts it houses are considered representative of the traditions of Chinese culture and Buddhism. The layout of the temple is also esteemed as an excellent example of Chinese architecture. The main features of the compound are the Sixth Ancestor Hall, Mahavira Hall, Heavenly King Hall, Sangharama Hall and the West and East Iron Towers.
The Sixth Ancestor Hall which dates to the Northern Song Dynasty was created to honour Master Hui Neng, of whom a large statue may be seen inside. Behind the building the visitor will see a bodhi tree which represents Buddhist wisdom. At this location you will also see the seven-storey Yifa Pagoda constructed in honour of the master.
However pride of place goes to the magnificent Mahavira Hall which rests on an elevated platform. This elegant building is renowned as being amongst the most resplendent in southern China, and is flanked by the Drum Tower and Bell Tower. Within the hall you will see three elaborate statues of the Buddha.
The West and East Iron Towers have the distinction of being the most ancient iron towers within China. The East Tower, a structure which still stands intact, rises seven stories high. Approximately 1,000 small shrines are carved on to the tower, each featuring a small ornate statue of the Buddha.
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