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Ancient Buddha Emerges After 60 Years in Chinese Reservoir

Ian Harvey
Credit: CNN
Credit: CNN

Buddha: In 2017 the Hongmen reservoir in China’s Jiangxi Province in Nancheng County in the city of Fuzhou was partially drained order to do renovation on a hydropower gate. To the surprise of the locals, a six hundred year old Buddha statue emerged from the water.

According to, the director of the Research Institute of Archaeology of Jiangxi province, Xu Changqing, believes the statue may have come from either the Yuan Dynasty from 1279 to 1368 AD or the Ming Dynasty from 1368 to 1644 AD.

The just over twelve foot statue is done in bas relief in a niche on the side of a cliff with the Buddha gazing down at the waters. A local official, Guan Zhiyong, said that the statue was built to protect the rough waters of the Minjiang River where it meets its tributaries and has capsized many a boat.

The statue is around 12.5 feet (3.8 meters) tall and carved into a cliff. Credit: CNN
The statue is around 12.5 feet (3.8 meters) tall and carved into a cliff. Credit: CNN

Beneath the statue archeologists have found the remains of a temple that was approximately five hundred and forty square feet according to

It was built by the ancient Chinese in Xiaoshi Township, the remains of which are at the bottom of the reservoir which was created in 1958. Many of those residents were forced out when the town was flooded but some returned to witness the statue while it was still above water.

Huang Keping, an eighty two year old blacksmith, was one of those people and recalls that when he saw the temple and statue in 1952 it was gilded.

As the statue could not be removed because of the way it is carved into the cliff face and the fact that there were no protections for cultural relics at the time – the small town was submerged. Because it has been under water for so long the statue was actually protected from weathering and possible damage by humans.

China is a land with hundreds of Buddha statues and more being built. In the Zhaocun township of Lushan County, Henan, the Spring Temple Buddha was built from 1997 to 2008 and depicts a four hundred and twenty foot tall golden Vairocana Buddha standing atop a sixty six foot tall lotus shaped pedestal.

The pedestal stands on the Diamond Seal which in turn stands on the Sumeru Seat which brings the height to just over six hundred and eighty feet. It is made from gold, copper alloy and steel and for a nominal fee, visitors can touch its toes.

The statue was submerged in 1960 when the Hongmen reservoir was built. Credit: CNN
The statue was submerged in 1960 when the Hongmen reservoir was built. Credit: CNN

An almost three hundred foot statue of the Shakyamuni Buddha at lingshan Park stands on the shore of Taihu Lake surrounded by picturesque mountains. It depicts Prince Siddhartha just after receiving enlightenment becoming a Buddha when he was thirty five. tells us this Buddha is made up of one thousand five hundred and sixty bronze plates, weighs over seven hundred tons and also sits on a lotus pedestal.

The Tian Tan Buddha, an eleven foot tall bronze statue on Ngong Ping, Lantau Island was completed in 1993. It is included in the Po Lin Monastery, an attraction suggested for anyone visiting Hong Kong. tells us the statue “symbolizes the relationship between faith and people, man and nature” and is a focal icon for Buddhism in the area.

It sits on three lotus platforms with two hundred and sixty eight steps to the Buddha and is surrounded by “The Offering of The Six Devas”, statues which represent wisdom, meditation, zeal, generosity, patience, and morality.

The Leshan Giant Buddha in Leshan city, Sichuan province was built one thousand and two hundred years ago, engraved out of the Lingyun Mountain. tells us the stone carving depicts a seated Maitreya Buddha with his hands on his knees surrounded by smaller figures carved into the sandstone mountain. It is almost two hundred and thirty three feet tall and can hold at least two grown men in its ear and about one hundred people in its instep.

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The Giant Buddha is found at the junction of the Minjiang River, Dadu and Qingyi Rivers to calm the choppy waters where the rivers collide and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News