Legendary Buddhist temple, lost for more than seven centuries, yields its treasures beneath Chinese city

Archaeologist excavating recently rediscovered Fugan Temple, built in the 4th century, uncover more than 1,500 tablets of Buddhist scriptures and stone sculptures

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 June, 2017, 4:00pm
UPDATED : Monday, 05 June, 2017, 4:00pm

More than 1,500 Buddhist tablets and stone sculptures have been recovered in the centre of one of the largest cities in western China following the rediscovery a lost temple, a mainland newspaper reports.

The ruins of Fugan Temple, a well-known Buddhist site from the Eastern Jin dynasty (317AD to 589AD) to the Southern Song dynasty (1127 to 1279), were discovered recently by archaeologists under Shiye Street in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, the West China City Daily reported.

The artefacts recovered so far include more than 1,000 clay tablets inscribed with Buddhist scriptures and more than 500 stone carvings of Buddha and various Bodhisattvas, according to the report.

Many ceramics for daily use and building materials were also discovered.

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The archaeologists had excavated about 11,000 square metres, which was only a part of the temple complex as it stood in the Sui and Tang dynasties (581AD to 907AD), researcher Yi Li told the newspaper.

But this was enough to give archaeologists a good picture of the temple’s past glory, Yi added.

Fugan, which means “to feel the blessing”, was a famous temple from ancient temples that thrived during the great prosperity of the Tang dynasty but declined gradually during the wars of the Song dynasty.

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The famous poet Liu Yuxi and the eminent Tang-era monk Dao Xuan both wrote about the significance of the temple.

Wang Yi, director of the Chengdu Cultural Relic Research Institute, said the discovery provided invaluable information for further research into Buddhist culture during the Tang Dynasty.