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Dabei Monastery in Tianjin

Dabei Monastery in Tianjin
By Rose Salas

TP 202001 ART 01 2The Dabei Buddhist Monastery is among the largest and oldest of Tianjin鈥檚 preserved temples. It is located on Tianwei Road in the Hebei District of the city. The temple鈥檚 name, Dabei, comes from Dabei Arya Avalokiteshvara. The temple covers an area of 10.38 acres, which is about 42,000 square metres in area.

BT 202001 ART 05Temple Complex

The temple complex consists of two parts, the Old Monastery and the New Monastery. The Old Monastery consists of three great halls located in the West Temple. This dates from the early days of the Qing Dynasty, the structures were rebuilt and renovated during the reign of Emperor Kangxi and date from 1669.

Buddhist Temple Tianjin ChinaThe Old Monastery

The Old Monastery contains the Cultural Relic Palace, the Abbot Palace and is home to the Tianjin Branch of the Chinese Buddhism Association in the Tianjin Buddhist Institute, it includes the Buddhism Scripture Chanting Hall and the Buddhist Abbot Hall. The Cultural Relic Palace contains hundreds of statues depicting Buddha that are made from various materials, including bronze, iron, stone and wood. These treasures have been dated to have existed since the Wei and Jin Dynasties.

BT 202001 ART 03The New Monastery

The New Monastery is the main part of the temple complex and was built in 1942 under the direction of Master Monk Tan Xu. It is located in the East Temple and contains the Daxiong Palace, where visitors can view the statue of Sakyamuni. This statue stands 7 metres in height, weighs 6 tons and contains 9,999 small Buddhas carved into the lotus throne. In the Great Compassion Hall there is a statue of mud standing 3.6 metres high that is dedicated to the Thousand hand Kwan-yin.

BT 202001 ART 06Xuanzang

The Dabei Monastery was also famous for hosting the skull relic of Xuanzang. Xuanzang was an eminent monk during the Tang Dynasty of 618-907. This relic was in 1956, presented to India as a sign of good relations between the two countries. Itand is now on permanent display in the Patna Museum. In place of this relic, the Great Compassion Hall has an image of the Xuanzang Master and of the Hongyi Master.

BT 202001 ART 02Buddhist Architecture

There is an extensive collection of Buddhist architecture within the East Temple. These can be viewed in the Dabei Hall, the Grand Hall, the Hall of Heavenly Kings (also known as the Tianwang Hall) and the Hall of Earth Treasure Bodhisattva, or the Dizang Hall. The statues on display show the care and precision of their sculptor. Each of the hundreds of statues contain exquisite artistic quality.

 

Dabei Hall

In addition to the statues of Sakyamuni and Kwan-yin with its thousand hands, are statues of Maitreya and the Eighteen Arhats of the Buddha. In Dabei Hall is another statue of Kwan-yin, this one is special for it has 24 arms and a single pair of eyes that can see to the front, as well as to the left and right. The interior walls of Dabei Hall are painted with colourful murals, each one depicting the life of Sakyamuni.

BT 202001 ART 04The Hall of Heavenly Kings

In the Hall of Heavenly Kings is a statue of Buddha Maitreya, the Future Buddha. This statue is surrounded on two sides by the statues of the four Heavenly Kings, this symbolises favourable weather for the crops. The Hall of Earth Treasure Bodhisattva honours Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva and the many hierarchs.

 

Vegetarian Food

The Dabei Monastery is the only one in Tianjin to provide vegetarian food. The food served is provided by the Tianjin Dabei Buddhist Monastery Vegetarian Food Corporation, which is famed for its dishes, such as deepfreeze eight precious vegetarian steamed buns, multi-vitamins calcium noodles, vegetarian soybean and vegetarian dumplings.

BT 202001 ART 07How to get to the Dabei Monastery

The temple complex is located about 2km from Tianjin North Railway Station, it is served by several bus routes. Take routes 904, 910 or sightseeing bus number 1 to the Yuanwei Road stop. Bus number 324 to the Tuanjieli stop or bus numbers 1, 4, 12, 34, 609, 610, 632, 641, 646, 659, 670, 671, 702, 818, 849, 861, 878, 954 or sightseeing bus number 2 to the Jingangqiao stop.

 

Admission and Hours of Opening

There is an admission fee of just 5 CNY to visit the temple complex. The site is open every day except Mondays from 9am until 4.30pm. On the 1st and 15th days of the lunar month the temple opens at 6am and closes at 5pm. The recommended time to allow for a visit is about one hour.

 

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