Pipa-playing Heavenly King

19 July 2009

The Lingyin Temple (灵隐寺) was founded during the Eastern Jin Dynasty (4th century AD), but has been rebuilt many times since. The current buildings are 20th century reconstructions of those built in the late Qing Dynasty.

The temple comprises five main halls. The first of these, forming the entrance to the temple, is the Hall of the Heavenly Kings. In Buddhism, the four Heavenly Kings each watch over one of the cardinal directions. This picture shows Dhritarashtra (持国天) who watches over the east, and is depicted here playing the pipa.

Photography is not permitted inside any of the halls, a restriction I respectfully observed. The composition of this and some of the other photos was therefore determined by the available views through windows.

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