China has restored its 800-year-old Buddha with 1,000 hands called the “Qianshou Guanyin” statue to join the world’s famous Buddhist pilgrimage or tourist circles in the world after Japan’s Kamakura Buddha statue,
It took more than seven years and about 60 million yuan (US$9.8 million) to undertake the restoration work to clean the entire rock scuplture and bring it back to its glory in Dazu County in Sichun province but the trigger came from the closing ceremony of Athens 2004 Paralympics Games, where 21 hearing impaired girls and boys from the China Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe (CDPPAT) performed a six-minute dance of Thousand-hand Guanyin as a “theme song” and enthralled the whole world.
Soon, the restoration work was taken up with one million gold foils to restore the instruments in 827 broken hands, which were crucial part of the statue. Consolidating them besides cleaning turned out to be a challenging task that took the team all the while.
Built during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 to 1279), the 1000-handed Buddha was one of the world’s famous rock carvings, majority of them located in the vicinity in the grottoes of Dazu. Some of them date back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and entire area was listed in the World Heritage sites by UNESCO in 1999.
The Buddha statue measures 7.7 metres high and 12.5 metres wide and is expected to remain glowing for at least 50 years from now, said Zhan Changfa, a researcher of the Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage, who is in charge of the project.
See video below of the famous dance:
The legend goes that an ancient Miaozhuang king who had three beautiful princesses, Miaojin, Miaoyin, and the little Miaoshan, was upset when the last daughter decided to devote herself to Buddha as a sanyasin or nun. The enraged king sent army to destroy all Buddhist structures and exapelled all the nuns but soon became a victim of God’s fury with 500 incurable large abscess on his body.
When a witch advised him to dose a co-drugs mixed the hand and eye of his flesh and blood, he had asked his other two daughters who refused but without his request his third daughter came forward to sacrifice her hand and eye and soon the king recovered. In turn, the little princess was bestowed with one thousand hands each with an eye in the palm, and given the name Thousand-hand Guanyin Bodhisattva.
Another mystery surround the statue was that nobody could count the number of hands for centuries and it was solved during the Qing dynasty by a clever monk who used of gilding opportunity to count the hand numerically and finally solved this mystery.
So, how many hands?
Actually the Guanyin Buddha had 1007 hands, 1007 eyes, bringing the statue the name of Thousand-hand Buddha.
Now that the grand Buddha statue is restored, Tong Mingkang, deputy head of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, vowed at a restoration ceremony on Saturday to keep up its maintenance .