7/4/07 - 7/4/07 21 °C
Yesterday we played tourist at the Jade Buddha Temple. Jade is a popular carving medium in China. There is a whole section dedicated to jade in the Shanghai Museum. The actual temple with its yellow walls and pagoda style eaves is encroached on all sides by modern buildings and streets.
Inside the temple is a courtyard with a shrine housing several large Buddha statues. The structure surrounding the courtyard contained several smaller Buddha figures as well as tourist shops and a vegetarian restaurant.
Despite a steady rain and flocks of tourists we saw several people take time to pray in the courtyard and inside the temple. Outside worshipers lit bundles of incense and proceeded to bow in the four directions of the compass. Inside, pads on the floor allowed the devout to kneel and pray to Buddha.
Small red globes were draped across the courtyard and underneath the awnings over walkways.
At one point I was invited up to the second floor of the gift shop where a nice Chinese man made a carefully scripted sales pitch for some incredibly beautiful (not to mention expensive) items carved from wood and jade. Though I didn’t see a price tag, one of the most spectacular pieces was a monastic scene carved out of a mahogany stump depicting at least 18 different Buddhist monks doing daily activities. Additionally there were animals, buildings, and even a dragon or two. Supposedly it took two monks three years to carve scene. Unfortunately they did not allow pictures in the gift shop.
In one of the side galleries next to a reclining Buddha was a booth selling Chinese Paper Cuts.
Not to be confused with the dreaded office war wound, Chinese paper cuts are elaborate images cut from a single piece of tissue paper. In the picture above, the red image on the left depicts the Yuyuan Gardens in Shanghai. An image like that may take one to two days to create.
Stacy and I visited the temple with several of her classmates. We finished off our tour with a meal at the vegetarian restaurant. The university cafeteria has a buffet meal three times a day for the law students, but after a while the same sweet, oil heavy, Chinese dishes start to wear on the palate. We enjoyed a wonderful meal that included herb encrusted cashews, a ramen noodle soup with imitation pork, taro (a root vegetable) with broccoli and cheese sauce, sweet and sour tofu, and a few others.
After our meal we were talked into a picture in the court yard.
You can read more about the Jade Buddha Temple on Wikipedia.