Special Buddha statue system at Con Son pagoda

22/02/2017 15:27

A unique Buddha statue system has contributed to forming the remarkable value of Con Son Pagoda (Hai Duong).

A special Buddha statue system at Con Son pagoda

Precious sculptures

Con Son pagoda (or Thien Tu Phuc) was built in the Tran dynasty. At that time, it had noi cong ngoai quoc architecture with adequate works from Ban Nguyet lake to the top of Con Son and Ngu Nhac mountains, according to epitaphs.

Under the later Le dynasty, the feudal State paid special attention to building Con Son pagoda, renewing Buddhas, sculpting new statues, etc.

Though from the 19th century to the early 20th century, statues at Con Son pagoda were lost or damaged because of wars; the remaining Buddha statue system nowadays is still very remarkable.

Blocking the access to thuong dien (central chamber) of the pagoda are two large statues of ho phap (guardian deities). There are also a statue of Duc Ong (God of the soil) and a statue of a holy monk elaborately made.

A group of statues in thuong dien is divided into four tiers following the arrangement of pagodas in the northern delta.

On the top tier are three statues of Buddhas of past, present, and future generations rarely seen at other pagodas.

A 2.9m-high Amitabha Buddha statue, the largest one in the Buddha hall, was placed in the center of the 2nd tier and flanked by statues of Avalokitesvara bodhisattva, Mahasthamaprapta bodhisattva, and two other bodhisattvas responsible for saving, protecting, and leading living beings to Sukhavati. Due to its too large size, the statue of Amitabha Buddha was later moved to the first tier, making a difference compared to other pagodas.

In the middle of the 3rd tier is a statue of Sakyamuni holding a lotus and flanked by statues of Kasyapa and Ananda – his two great disciples.

On the 4th tier is a statue of nine dragons. According to classic references, shortly after Sakyamuni's birth, there were nine dragons flying down and spraying water for him to bath, and then he took nine steps with his left hand pointing at the sky and his right hand pointing to the ground.

All of the statues are precious and exemplary sculptures dating from the 17th century. Of these, only the statue of the nine dragons is made of bronze while the rest are made of jackfruit wood red-lacquered and gilded.

Le Duy Manh, Deputy Head of the Management Unit of Con Son – Kiep Bac Relics, said not only in the Buddha hall, another group of statues in the ancestral house also consists of unique sculptures.

Among them, the highlight is a set of statues of three patriarchs of Truc Lam Zen, namely King-Monk Tran Nhan Tong, Phap Loa, and Huyen Quang, on the 2nd tier. It is considered the most valuable and beautiful set of statues of the three patriarchs of Truc Lam Zen in Vietnam.

Another statue which is regarded as an example of portrait statues in the 19th century is the one of Minister over the Masses Tran Nguyen Dan with a solemn face in the middle of the 3rd tier.

In addition, there are other special statues in the ancestral house, including statues of the Buddhas of past, present, and future generations, tang thong (general supervisor of monks), tang luc (monk scribe), Avalokitesvara bodhisattva sitting on a mountain, etc.

Constant renovation

Over the past years, the Buddha statue system at Con Son pagoda has been constantly renovated with funds contributed by people and Buddhists.

At the Con Son – Kiep Bac Autumn Festival 2014, a casting ceremony of 18 Arhat statues took place at Con Son relic site with the participation of more than 1,000 Buddhist monks, nuns, and followers and locals.

There were 18 Arhat statues at Con Son pagoda donated by people and Buddhists, according to ancient epitaphs there.

Made of bronze, the new statues weigh 500 – 1,000 kg. After casting, they were placed in two corridors of Con Son pagoda in February 2015. The perfected Arhat statue group has contributed to increasing the imposingness of the Buddha statue system.

"Coming to Con Son, I am not only impressed by structures but also very interested in contemplating the Buddha statue system here. In recent years, many Buddha statues at the pagoda have been renovated, making the relic more special," shared visitor Nguyen Viet Quang from Bac Ninh province.

In 2015 when the construction of a cuu pham lien hoa (nine grades of lotus) tower was commenced at the pagoda, the Management Unit of Con Son – Kiep Bac Relics called on Buddhist monks, nuns, and followers and people to make donations to cast 216 Buddha statues on the tower.

Finally, Buddhist monks, nuns, and followers and people contributed over VND1 billion to cast a complete system of statues. The work was inaugurated on the occasion of the opening of this year's Con Son – Kiep Bac Spring Festival.

To carry out renovation in accordance with a master plan to preserve Con Son – Kiep Bac historical and cultural relic site in association with tourism development in Chi Linh provincial town, the construction of a statue of Avalokitesvara bodhisattva about 10 m high on the mountain behind the pagoda will be commenced at Con Son relic after the Con Son – Kiep Bac Spring Festival.

It is expected that statues of four heavenly kings will be built at Con Son pagoda later.


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    Special Buddha statue system at Con Son pagoda