THE Giant Buddha in China, also known as the Leshan Buddha, recently underwent a six-month examination as part of its repair plan. It had suffered degradations from weathering, air pollution, and swarms of tourists.
However, last week, it officially reopened to tourists once again.
Said to be one of the world’s most awesome giant statues, it is a true feast for the eyes, impressing all that comes across it.
Located near the city of Leshan in southwest China’s Sichuan province, it stands proud at 71 meters tall, earning it the title of world’s largest Buddha statue and the tallest pre-modern statue in the world. His shoulders are 28 meters wide and his smallest toenail is large enough to easily accommodate a seated person.
The stunning stone sculpture was carved out of a cliff face of Cretaceous red bed sandstones that lies at the confluence of the Min River and Dadu River.
It is said that the statue was built over a 90-year period between 713 and 803 during the Tang Dynasty, originally led by a Chinese monk named Hai Tong. The construction results in so much stone being removed from the cliff face and deposited into the river below that the currents were altered by the statue, making the water safe for passing ships.
A sophisticated drainage system was also incorporated into the Leshan Giant Buddha which includes drainage pipes served into various places on the body to carry away water after the rain to reduce weathering.
Its prime location at the mountain range coined the local saying, “The mountain is a Buddha and the Buddha is a mountain.”
In 1996, the Mount Emei Scenic Area, including the Leshan Buddha Scenic Area, was listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site. Buddhism is still very much a dominant religion in China.
From October 2018 until March 2019, the Leshan Buddha was examined using cutting-edge technology such as drone aerial survey, 3D laser scanning, and high-density resistivity methods. This was deployed because the statue had developed cracks and some damage to its chest and abdomen, according to the management committee of the Leshan Buddha Scenic Area.
This was not the first time that the Leshan Buddha had to undergo restoration works.
In 2001, a US$37.1 million project was conducted to clean the body, cement rock structures, mend cracks, and install drainage pipes. This was followed by another facelift project in 2007 to repair damage caused by weathering and acid rain.