Bamboo Temple

Bamboo Temple (Qiongzhu) is a famous Buddhist temple situated about twelve kilometers from Kunming in the Yu'an Mountains. Established in the Song Dynasty (960 -1234) there is a charming legend about its name's origin, involving two brothers hunting a rhinoceros in the woods and finding magical monks who vanished leaving their walking sticks planted in the ground. The next day a bamboo forest had appeared. The brothers built the temple in honor of the monks.

Actually it was a famous Buddhist monk during the Yuan Dynasty (1206 -1368) that brought the temple its fame. Destroyed and rebuilt several times, the current structure was rebuilt after a fire by Emperor Guangxu of the Qing Dynasty (1644 -1912).

Some attractions in the temple include the statues of Four Guardian Kings located in the entrance hall, the 3 statues of Buddha and two 450 year old cypress trees in the front courtyard.

Without doubt though, Bamboo Temple is most famous for the 500 Buddhist arhats (famous monks and saints from Chinese Buddhism) that were sculpted from clay over seven years during the Qing Dynasty when the temple was being rebuilt, by the renowned artist Li Guangxiu and his students. The sculptures are brilliantly realistic, each one having its own expression and pose which is unusual with such a large number. You can find any emotion or feeling you can think of in the faces and gestures of these figures. They have become known as "the sculptured pearls in the oriental treasure house".