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Guangyuan Thousand Buddha Cliff

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Introdution
Guangyuan Thousand Buddha Cliff (Qianfo Cliff) is located on the east bank of Jialing River 5 kilometers away from the north of Guangyuan City and faces Huangze Temple across the river, whose scale is the largest among the grottoes in Sichuan Province. In April 1961, it was listed among the first batch of national key cultural relic protection units by the State Council. The construction of Thousand Buddha Cliffside Statues can be dated back to the Northern Wei Dynasty. Over nearly 1500 years, there have been numerous statues, shrines and grottos on the cliff that is 45 meters high and more than 200 meters long from the south to the north, which are arranged layer upon layer and reach 13 layers at most.

History & Background
It was recorded on a stone tablet built in the fourth year (1854) of the Xianfeng rein in the Qing Dynasty that there used to be altogether "more than 17,000 statues" all over the cliff. However in 1935, more than half of the statues were destroyed when the cliff was blown up to make for the Sichuan-Shaanxi Road. Now, there are only more than 400 shrines and grottoes as well as more than 7,000 statues. With the Dayun Cave as the center, the statues on the Thousand Buddha Cliff are divided into two parts: the north and the south. The grottoes in the south part include the Big Buddha Cave, the Lotus Cave, the Sakyamuni Cave, the Thousand-Buddha Cave, the Sleeping Buddha Cave, the Multi Treasures Buddha Cave, the Connecting Buddha Shrine, the Provider Shrine, the Magic Dragon Buddha, the Nyoirin Kannon, the Single Buddha Cave, etc.; those in the north part include Three World Buddha Grotto, the Saraca Cave, he Maitreya Buddha Grotto, the Three Buddha Bodies Shrines, the Day Monk Niches, the Bodhi Statue Cave, the Jiletian Cave, the Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Shrine, the Hercules Shrine, the Vairocana Buddha Shrine, the Eleven-Face Avalokitesvara, the Amida Shrine, the Flying Apsaras Cave, Hiding Buddha Cave of the Qing Dynasty, etc. The Dayun Cave, lying in the center of the Thousand Buddha Cliff, has the largest scale with 234 statues altogether and 148 lotus Avalokitesvara statues on the left and right cliff walls. In the right middle of the cave, there is a standing statue of the Maitreya Buddha which is said to be the incarnation of Empress Wu Zetian.

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In the first year of the Tianshou rein in the Tang Dynasty (690) when Wu Zetian formally ascended the throne, the 12 monks including the monk Fa Ming in White Horse Temple composed "Dayun Scripture" to cater to the Wu Zetian' s enthronement. It is recorded in "Dayun Scripture" that Wu Zetian was the Maitreya Buddha and ought to ascend the throne in place of Li Tang. Wu Zetian was quite happy after reading the scripture. She handwrote the preface, issued it to the country and ordered to construct Dayun Temple to treasure up the "Dayun Scripture". Since Wu Zetian was born in Lizhou, the local people built Dayun Cave in the Thousand Buddha Cliff and carved the statue of the Maitreya Buddha and the two statues in the back wall shrine-Li Zhi and Wu Zetian. There is a Chinese tradition "male left and female right", but the two statues are arranged by "female left and male right" and the shrines are arranged by "male high and female low", which reflects the skillfully and refined ideas of the designers. Currently, there is a passage along the cliff constructed and improved by Guangyuan Cultural Relic Administration, with stairs for visitors to climb and visit the shrines and grottos.

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