Lost temple discovered in Chengdu after nearly 1,000 years

This photo taken last Friday shows the site of the famous Fugan Temple that was recently discovered in Chengdu, once an ancient capital city.
This photo taken last Friday shows the site of the famous Fugan Temple that was recently discovered in Chengdu, once an ancient capital city.PHOTO: XINHUA

CHENGDU • Archaeologists have discovered a temple - deemed to have been lost for nearly a millennium - in downtown Chengdu, capital of China's Sichuan province,

"We have excavated only a part of the temple's area, but already have a glimpse of its past glory," said Mr Yi Li, who led the excavation project.

He said the excavation team has found the temple's foundation, ruins of surrounding buildings, wells, roads and ditches.

During the excavation, archaeologists also found some 80 ancient tombs that date back to the Shang and Zhou dynasties (1600-256 BC).

In the temple's surroundings, they have unearthed large amounts of household tools and utensils and building materials dating back to various periods from the Song to Ming dynasties.

The Fugan Temple was a famous temple that lasted from the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420) to the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279).

Daoxuan, a famous Tang Dynasty (618-907) monk, once wrote that an official rite to pray for rain to end a persistent drought was held in front of the temple, and it rained as if the prayers had been heard in heaven. That was how the temple got its name Fugan, which means "feeling the blessing".

Famous Tang Dynasty poet Liu Yuxi also wrote a poem to commemorate the temple's renovation.

However, the temple suffered damage during wars and all traces of its physical existence disappeared during the later period of the Song dynasty.

Archaeologists also unearthed more than 1,000 tablets inscribed with Buddhist scriptures and more than 500 pieces of stone sculpture, as well as glazed tiles with inscriptions.

The temple's discovery could greatly contribute to the study of the spread of Buddhism in China during that time, said Mr Wang Yi, director of the Chengdu Cultural Relic Research Institute.

The institute held a press conference to announce the discovery yesterday.

XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 05, 2017, with the headline 'Lost temple discovered in Chengdu after nearly 1,000 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe