Day 55 of 111. Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Xi’an, China
After an early breakfast at the hotel, we drove a short way to the pagoda which is right in the old city. This is a Buddhist Temple that dates back 1300 years to the Tang Dynasty. This pagoda was not destroyed and rebuilt like many, this one remained intact, even through natural disasters and political upheaval. The name sounds very funny, but the story is interesting. Xuan Zhuang became a Buddhist monk in 613 AD. Apparently there was a lot of confusion about Buddhism and its teachings due to problems with translations and disagreements between scholars. SInce Buddhism began in India, Xuan Zhuang decided to follow the Silk Road and travel to India. It was a tough journey and along the way he got lost in the Gobi desert and nearly died, but a wild goose honked and woke up Xuan Zhuang and the monk followed the goose out of the desert. Xuan made it to India and spent many years studying and clarifying the Buddhist ideas. He returned to Xi’an and built the Emperor was very impressed when he heard the story. Xuan had the pagoda built to honor the wild goose that saved his life. Xuan spent many more years translating the scrolls he brought back from India into Chinese. He was a great scholar. The Tang Dynasty was known for its blossoming of art and culture and opening of China to the outside due to the Silk Road.
On this cruise, we get lectures about the places we visit. China has such a long and varied history with a cultural heritage that dates back thousands of years. It is tough to try to get a grasp. Our guides have been especially helpful in simplifying the history into four or five major areas that we can use as a basis for our understanding. I enjoy the details of the art we see everywhere. I especially like the stylized clouds as found on this dragon sculpture. The golden Buddah was in one of the temples. The man in the bottom picture is making a “chop” for me which is that little stamp you add to your picture. Mine will say “happiness” or “fortune”. He is carving it out with a chisel/knife tool. A nice part of this visit was the early hour. There were few visitors and the quiet serenity of the temple was not disturbed.