Notes on the Geography of China: Baodingshan: Photo 2
There are actually two Baodingshans, Large and Small. The Large Baodingshan, shown in these pictures, was the focal point for pilgrims, while the Small Baodingshan, a few hundred yards away, was the sanctum for training cult practitioners.
The Large Baodingshan is set in a box canyon, whose sandstone walls on three sides are carved with 31 sets of figures illustrating the many doctrinal threads woven into Zhao's brand of Buddhism. Here, guarding the approach to the U-shaped line of carvings, are the Nine Protectors of the Law.
Li Lisheng (in Dazu shiku, Beijing, 1984) was perhaps the first student to interpret Baodingshan as a giant mandala, which is to say a visualization of a dharani, or incantation or sacred verse. Angela Falco Howard agreed with him and adds that the dozens of cliff sculptures in Dazu and neighboring Anyue County are stations on a pilgrimage that culminates at Baodingshan.
The captions here rely heavily on her Summit of Treasures: Buddhist Cave Art of Dazu, China (2001).
Back to China: Baodingshan chapter
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