Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Bit of the Naxi and Tibetan Elements

Upon entering the Zhiyun Temple, I felt transported back to Dharamsala, the Indian enclave for Tibetan refugees. Prayer wheels of varying sizes where rotated by devotees who looked more Tibetan than Chinese. Rainbow colors adorned the walls.

Santu, Naxi god of fighting and agriculture
 However, there were visual elements that differed from that of the Tibetan temples of Dharamsala. My guide explained that Zhiyun Temple, built in 1727, also includes elements of the Naxi, Bai, and Han people. Himself a member of the Naxi ethnic group, my guide told me that the sculpture above was Santu, the Naxi god of fighting and agriculture.

Cycle of Incarnation
This menacing looking figure displays the cycle of Incarnation. The commoners depicted in one section of the wheel wore the traditional clothing of the Bai people. The large lower section on hell-like suffering contained some rather gruesome illustrations. Full of symbolism, I did later recognize the same tiger skin displayed at the Mu Family temple in Lijiang.
Incense and smoke filled the air.

Murals filled the walls, adorned with guardians, gods, and other imagery, all depicted in curvilinear, colorful styles. I would have loved to have learned more about the imagery on the walls and elsewhere in the temple. Alas, we had to move on.

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