Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fo Guang Temple佛光寺 (2)- The Great Eastern Hall東大殿

The temple compound contains three main buildings: the Great Eastern Hall, the Manjusri Hall, and the Garan Hall. Each was built in different period of Chinese history, providing an opportunity to examine the differences in and evolution of building styles.

Great Eastern Hall

This main hall housing Shakyamuni Buddha, was built in 857 during the great Tang Dynasty. (Figure 1). The exterior is a simple one layer roof supported by square corbel bracket (Figure 2 and 3). These brackets (dou gong in Chinese) are essential elements in Chinese wooden structure. They transmit the weight of the roof to the columns and enable larger spans of the beam-post structure than other-wise. Tang brackets are square and simple. Together with the single layer roof, undecorated columns, and earthy red tone of the painted wall, the whole building exudes simple elegance unseen in the latter buildings in Chinese history. This simple elegance inspired Japanese Zen-feel architectures ever since. The Hall has 7 bays that were only allowed for a royal building at that time. This seems to indicate the importance of this building in the mind of the sponsoring emperor.
We were not allowed to take pictures inside the hall. So, I just scan this picture from the book that I bought to illustrate the clay figures inside the hall that were sculpted in 9th century (Figure 4). A wooden and cloth armature was covered with clay. The surface was sanded and painted with a mixture of egg white, clay, and rice powder. The sanding and painting were repeated several times to achieve a smooth surface. Then, paints made with mineral colors were applied. The vivid colors and the smooth surface were preserved for more than a thousand years without losing their lusters!! Tang color scheme utilizes contrast between complementary color to achieve a striking beauty. We will see that this scheme will evolve to a more subdued color scheme in Liao-Jin era.

The 25 feet brick pagoda in the last picture is the only original 5th century structure left in the compound. The North Wei ruler at that time was of Xian-Bei race that is linguistically related to the present day Turks. The influence of their culture contributed to the unique form of this pagoda. This is said to be one of the two North Wei pagoda left in China

佛光寺有三個大殿: 東大殿, 文殊殿, 和珈藍殿。 有趣的是它們是在不同時期建造的。讓我們有機會在同一個地方,體會到木建築的演變。


這個供奉釋迦摩尼的大殿是在唐代(公元857)造成的 (圖一)。外觀是單層屋頂,由 直角斗拱 (圖2,3)和直柱支持著。 這些斗拱是中國木構造的要素。 它們將部分屋頂的重量直接傳到柱子,減輕棟樑負擔, 使得柱子的間空可以增加,殿堂更加寬敞。唐建築的簡單屋頂,直角斗拱,光柱,和土紅的牆壁, 構成了後代中國建築上少見的高貴的氣質。這些特質影響了後來日本具有禪味的建築風格。大殿有7間。 據導遊說, 當時只有皇家可以在殿寬使用這個數目字。 可見當權者對這個大殿的重視。
我們不能在殿內拍照。 所以我書上找來這幅照片來說明這些珍貴的9世紀塑像。先用木頭和麻布做成支架, 再用泥土塑成胚, 磨光後用蛋白,糯米,和泥土塗上, 經過幾次打磨後, 用天然顏料上色。這樣鮮豔的彩色和光滑的表面, 至今如生。唐代色彩著重對比,非常鮮豔。 我們以下看遼金時期顏色就偏向調和了。

最後一圖是寺院內唯一留存的5世紀北魏建築。 塔高25尺。 是青磚造成的。 北魏皇帝是鮮卑族。 這個塔的獨特造型是他們文化對中國影響的一個例子。 據說現在只有兩座北魏石磚塔留存下來。

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