UBC Community, Partners, and Alumni Publications

Complex of four niches, with inscription in the first niche, Qianfo zhai (千佛寨) Anderl, Christoph


This complex of four niches is located in Qianfo zhai 千佛寨, Anyue xian 安岳縣, Sichuan sheng 四川省. Three of the niches are depicted in [5]; the fourth niche is depicted in [6] and [7] and they are located to the right of niche 58. At the center of the niche depicted in [1] (the first of the complex from the left) there is one seated figure, heavily weathered. This figure, probably a buddha, seems to have been flanked by one figure on each side, but these latter have been removed (notice the marks on the floor in [1]). On the right wall of the niche we see a small figure, possibly one of the donors that financially supported the carving of this niche. There is another hole in the floor in front of the central figure. Given its current state, this figure is impossible to identify. The standing figure depicted in [2] is located to the left of the niche in [1], and could represent either a bodhisattva or a disciple of the buddha. This niche can also be seen in the left part of [3]; from this angle we see a small figure carved in the left wall of the niche. As in [1], this could also portray one of the donors that sponsored the making of the carvings. The inscription records a dedication of merit. However, it is only partially readable and almost entirely impossible to decipher (see [3]). Hu Wenhe provides a transcription of two lines, one of which mentions a date for the cave, namely "Qingyuan er nian 慶元二年" (1196, during the Southern Song dynasty). The other line reads: 造解冤結菩薩 ("(We) made bodhisattvas of removing enmities"). The same passages of the inscriptions, according to Hu Wenhe, are also visible in niche 58. This shows that both niches were carved during the same period (Hu, 1994: 71). In the niche situated to the left of niche 58, only a beheaded seated buddha with legs pendant remains. However, it is plausible to think that it was originally part of a triad as in the case of niche 58 and the one next to it. All stautes inside the three niches have been beheaded, yet in the niche to the right of niche 58 (picture [6] and [7]) heads have been restored. In the niche to the right of niche 58, all three figures wear monastic garments. The central one is sitting with his legs pendant while the other two flanking him are seated on the top of a pedestal. The photographs show: Niche with one heavily weathered seated figure and a small figure on the right wall of the niche [1] Standing figure on the left side of the niche [2] Partially readable inscription located to the left of the buddha figure [3] Frontal view of niche 58, with a buddha seated with legs pendant at its center, flanked by two standing figures [4] Overview of three niches: the one depicted in [2], the one to its right, and niche 58 [5] Front view of the niche located to the left of niche 58, with a buddha seated with legs pendant in the middle, flanked by two figures seated on pedestals [6] Side view of the same niche as above [7] Reference: Hu Wenhe 胡文和, 1994: Sichuan daojiao fojiao shiku yishu 四川道教佛教石窟藝術 [The Art of Sichuan Daoist and Buddhist Grottoes]. Chengdu: Sichuan renmin chubanshe, 71. Metadata created by: Alessandro Poletto

Item Citations and Data


Attribution 4.0 International