Yenching Scholars Visits Shijing Mountain and Yunju Temple

On November 3rd, YCA Scholars visited Shijing Mountain and the Yunju Temple. In the morning, our Scholars hiked Shijing Mountain, two miles east of the Yunju Temple. The Mountain is not only the origin of the Fangshan stone scriptures but also a historical site represented by the Leiyin Grotto and Jingxian Princess Pagoda. Led by Yenching Academy Director of Graduate Studies, Lu Yang, the Scholars entered the famous Leiyin Grotto, exploring the different styles of stone scriptures. It is also worth noting that the Grotto’s site was where the Buddha relics were unearthed.

In the afternoon, Scholars visited Yunju temple, which housed several ancient palaces and pagodas with a vast collection of stone scriptures, and rare printed or manuscript paper sutras and wooden sutras. The Yunju Temple was constructed in the late Sui Dynasty and early Tang Dynasty, with a history of nearly 1400 years. It is also known as the “Great Northern Temple”. A stone scripture underground palace was built on the original site where the stone scriptures were discovered. The underground palace is regulated at room temperature and humidity to preserve the stone scriptures and prevent them from degrading. This trip offered our Scholars the opportunity to learn about the history and development of the Yunju Temple and Buddhism in China.

Jacqueline Gu (8th Cohort): It was such a moving experience to see these artifacts of history that have survived the test of time, collected and cared for. To experience this first-hand and learn from our professors and experts, along with my classmates, was a truly impactful and informative experience!

Daryl Lahm (8th Cohort): This trip was super enlightening! It was eye-opening to be able to see the well-preserved cultural artifacts, and I was honored to have the opportunity to visit and understand the importance of the site.

Jasper Abrahams (8th Cohort): This visit to the Yunju Temple provided the ideal escape from Beijing city life. The temple complex was impressive in itself, but the surrounding limestone caves containing Sui dynasty Buddhist inscriptions were of yet another order. We had the incredible privilege of admiring their precision and craftsmanship. I'm grateful professor Lu Yang was able to make this happen.

John Warburg (7th Cohort): The tour of the caves at the Yunju Temple provided a fascinating insight into Buddhist history and its role in ancient Chinese society. Professor Lu, as a guide, brought the story of the site to life in a unique way.

Written by Hui Xin Wong

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