Remnants of the lost Fugan Temple discovered after 1,000-years in Chengdu, China

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Chengdu, the capital of southwest China’s Sichuan Province and one of the most populous cities of country’s western region, is home to its fair share of historical legacies, with discoveries at the Jinsha sites establishing how the urban area was inhabited since 4,000 years ago. Well, this time around, adding a dash of romanticism to the historical scope, archaeologists (from Chengdu Cultural Relic Research Institute) have discovered the remains of the famed Fugan Temple that was previously believed to be lost for around a millennium. The fabulous find was accompanied by fragments of about a thousand tablets inscribed with Buddhist scriptures and 500 pieces of stone sculptures.

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In terms of history, the Fugan Temple was possibly established in early 4th century AD, coinciding with the reign of the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420 AD). The renown of the temple was prevalent until the medieval period when a major part of western China was ruled by the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279 AD). In fact, the very name ‘Fugan’ roughly translates to ‘perceive the blessing’. The famous Chinese Buddhist monk Daoxuan, who lived during the era of the Tang Dynasty, possibly from 596-667 AD, wrote about an incident when an official rite was carried out to bring rain to the region. The feat was apparently achieved by mass praying in front of the temple, which led to the christening of the structure as Fugan.

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Liu Yuxi (772–842 AD), a Chinese poet, philosopher, and essayist, during the later epoch of the Tang Dynasty, also waxed eloquence about the temple’s renovation, by describing its ‘heavenly appearance’ and cultural importance in the region (after all, Chengdu was the cultural center in western China during this era). Unfortunately, by the time of the Song Dynasty, the structural complex of the Fugan Temple fell into disarray and finally disappeared, with the abrupt ‘demise’ partly brought upon by incessant periods of warfare. In spite of such a fate – that almost managed to wipe the historical legacy of the religious building, archaeologists were pleasantly surprised by the scale of this temple.

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To that end, the researchers not only located some of the foundation remains of the Fugan Temple but also identified ruins of surrounding buildings, wells, roads and even ditches. And interestingly enough, alluding to the historical significance of the area, the archaeologists additionally discovered around 80 ancient tombs in proximity to the long-lost complex. These burial chambers probably predated the temple and date from the period of the Shang and Zhou dynasties (1600-256 BC). These intriguing finds were also accompanied by artifacts and objects (including household tools and utensils) from various periods coinciding with the later Song and Ming dynasties.

Source: Xinhua News / Images Credit: Xinhua/Liu Kun

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  • Mehul Kamdar

    Please consider doing a virtual reconstruction. Thanks in advance!

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