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Leshan Giant Buddha

Posted: Monday, October 29, 2012
  • Leshan Giant Buddha
  • Leshan Giant Buddha
  • Leshan Giant Buddha
  • Leshan Giant Buddha
  • Leshan Giant Buddha
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It's a good thing Buddhas are known for smiling because stumbling upon an angry 233-foot tall human likeness carved out of a cliff face would probably give you a heart attack. The Giant Buddha--who is admittedly wearing more of an I-just-toked-out smirk than a smile--draws masses to China's Sichuan Province, just east of the city of Leshan, to gaze upon his 92-foot wide shoulder span, and sit on his pinky toenail, which is easily large enough to accommodate the average-sized rear end. Set amidst lush area greenery at the confluence of the Minjiang, Dadu, and Qingyi rivers, the Buddha makes for a breathtaking glimpse into Chinese dynastic history...and gives onlookers a sense of what it feels like to be a Lilliputian.

The Leshan Giant Buddha is the largest stone Buddha in the world, as well as the tallest pre-modern-era statue in the world. It was carved during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), with construction led by a Chinese monk named Haitong. He hoped the symbol of serenity and peace would help calm the turbulent waters disrupting the fishing vessels utilizing the rivers. When Haitong's funding ran out, he is said to have gouged out his own eyes to show his piety and sincerity. We're not sure how that helped, and once the monk died, funding--and construction--ceased for around 70 years. However, when Haitong's disciples did finally complete the project, it is said that so much stone was scraped from the mountainside and discarded into the river that it actually did effect the currents, and rendered the waters much safer for passing boats.

Today, fully finished and seemingly content, the Giant Buddha enjoys a preserved location amidst the Mount Emei Scenic Area, which has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996. In Leshan and Chengdu--another nearby city--a local saying goes, "The mountain is a Buddha and the Buddha is a mountain," at least partly due to the Leshan Giant Buddha's host mountain range having the general shape of a slumbering Buddha when viewed from the river. The Leshan Giant Buddha is considered to be the larger Buddha's heart.

Why Does Buddha Laugh So Much?

We don't know the precise answer to this burning question, but here are a few more speculative timbers to toss on the global fire.

  • He's counting his donations.
  • He sees humanity as a bunch of clowns.
  • He watches a constant loop of Old School, Super Troopers, The Hangover, and My Cousin Vinny.
  • He has a permanent hookup with the world's dentists.
  • Jesus keeps tickling him.
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