Hanging Monastery

Hanging (Xuankong) Monastery Hanging (Xuankong) Monastery

Being the most outstanding Buddhist temples in China, Xuankong (Hanging) Monastery is situated at the foot of the Hengshan Mountain, 80 kilometers away from Datong. First built in the late Northern Wei Dynasty in the 6th century and renovated three or four times since, the serried buildings look as though they are supported by a dozen or so slim wooden posts no more substantial than chopsticks. Huge rocks loomed overhead, apparently liable to fall at any moment. The fragile path was strung out along the face of the cliff. There were two reasons to construct the Hanging Temple here. One reason is because there used to be a vital center of communication in old times, it’s necessary to construct a temple along this route for the passing pilgrims. But the Hunhe River that flowed past the foot of the cliff was capricious. The other reason is whenever there was a storm there would be a terrible flood. In those days people believed that a golden dragon was the cause of all this trouble, so they thought of a construction of a Buddhist temple to ward off the influence of the dragon.

Hanging Monastery is an architectural wonder. A unique mechanical theory was applied to building the framework. Crossbeams were half-inserted into the rock as the foundation, while the rock in back became its support. Seen from below, Hanging Monastery appears to be a tumble-down castle in the air. Inside, Hanging Monastery provides the same scene as other temples.
Construction experts from countries including Britain, Germany, and Italy, come to see the monastery. In their words, Hanging Monastery, which mixes mechanics, aesthetics, and Buddhism, is rare. The monastery and everything it symbolizes embodies a great cultural achievement of Chinese people.

The second attraction of Hanging Monastery is that it includes Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Inside the monastery, the sculptures of Sakyamuni, Confucious and Lao-tzu appear together, which is unusual. There are 40 halls and cabinets, which contain about 80 sculptures made of copper, iron, terracotta, and stone. The features are vividly carved.

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