In the western part of Shanghai, a very modern and flourishing city, there is a venerable and famous Buddhist temple, Jade Buddha Temple. In 1882, an old temple was built to keep two jade Buddha statues which had been brought from Burma by a monk named Huigen. The temple was destroyed during the revolution that overthrew the Qing Dynasty. Fortunately the jade Buddha statues were saved and a new temple was built on the present site in 1928. It was named the Jade Buddha Temple.
The temple is an active one, with 70 resident monks at last court. The temple is built between 1911 and 1918 in the style of the Song Dynasty, with symmetrical halls and courtyards, upturned eaves, and bright yellow walls. The exterior is readily identifiable by the bright saffron walls. Inside, the centerpiece is a 1.9-metre-high white jade Buddha, which was installed here after a monk has brought it from Burma to Zhejiang Province in 1882. The seated Buddha, encrusted with jewels, is said to weigh 1,000 kg. A smaller, reclining Buddha from the same shipment lies on a redwood bed. In the large hall are three gold-plated Buddha's, and other halls house ferocious-looking deities. Artifacts abound, not all on display, and some 7,000 Buddhist sutras line the walls. Also in the precincts is a branch of the Antiques & Curio Store that sells miniature sandalwood drums and gongs, replicas of the large ones used in ceremonies. The 70 monks who live and work here can sometimes be seen worshiping. A vegetarian restaurant can be found on the temple grounds.
The two precious jade Buddhist statues are not only rare cultural relics but also porcelain artworks. Both the Sitting Buddha and the Recumbent Buddha are carved with whole white jade. The sparkling and crystal-clear white jade gives the Buddhas the beauty of
sanctity and make them more vivid. The Sitting Buddha is 190 centimeters high and encrusted by the agate and the emerald, portraying the Buddha at the moment of his meditation and enlightenment. The Recumbent Buddha is 96 centimeters long, lying on the right side with the right hand supporting the head and the left hand placing on the left leg, this shape is called the 'lucky repose'. The sedate face shows the peaceful mood of Sakyamuni when he left this world. In the temple there is also another Recumbent Buddha which is four meters long and was brought from Singapore by the tenth abbot of the temple in 1989. Furthermore there are many other ancient paintings and Buddhist scriptures distributed in the different halls of the temple.
Although the history of the Jade Buddha Temple is not very long, the old-time and classical architectural style makes the temple unique and inimitable in this modern city. Devajara Hall, Mahavira Hall and the Jade Buddha Tower make up the main structure of the temple and at sides are the Kwan-yin Dian Hall, the Amitabha Dian Hall, the Zen Tang Hall, the Dining-Room and the Recumbent Buddha Hall. The Sitting Buddha is in the Jade Buddha Tower and the Recumbent Buddhas are in the Recumbent Buddha Hall. More than 7,000 Dazang sutras are kept in the Jade Buddha Tower; these are all the inestimable culture relics.
The Jade Buddha Temple is a good place to go whether you are a Buddhist or not, the peaceful and transcendent atmosphere adds a kind of richness to our busy modern society.