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Buddha’s footprints unearthed at temple
The Epoch Times

Visitors to Lantau Island in Hong Kong recently celebrated the Buddha’s birthday.

The Cultural Relic and Travel Agency in Tongchuan City, Shanxi Province, China recently revealed that they have a stone replica of the historical Buddha’s footprints. Experts believe an inscription on the stone is the authentic work of Tang monk Xuan Zang, who lived 1,400 years ago.

One expert said that the footprints carved on the stone are a genuine reproduction of the Buddha’s footprints which Xuan Zang brought back from India. The stone was unearthed at the ruins of Sucheng Courtyard at Yuhua Temple. Xinhua Net reported that the stone is about 35 cm long, 25 cm wide, and 10 cm high (approximately 14 in. long, 10 in. wide, and 4 in. high). Based on expert analysis of the inscription, altogether 24-1/2 characters could be identified among those remaining on the stone. From right to left they read:

Buddha’s footprints recorded at Mojietuo Country, Bochi City. Shakyamuni Tathagata Buddha stepped stone with feet. Zang worshiped here in person.

In the 1950's, at this same spot, archaeologists discovered another relic with stone footprints that were also a reproduction of Buddha’s original footprints made by Xuan Zang in India. Based on textual research, they were the earliest Chinese carving of Buddha’s footprints. However, only about one-third of the stone remained intact and only three characters were left on the relic.

According to Buddhist historical records, the original footprints were those that Buddha Shakyamuni left on a stone in his Indian hometown when he died. In the hollow of the reproduced footprints are densely carved Buddhist patterns and designs that are extremely intricate. The footprints are a relic left by Xuan Zang, who worshiped Buddha Shakyamuni in India and reverently handwrote the inscription. After journeying to India, Xuan commissioned a stone mason to carefully reproduce Buddha’s footprints.

As one of the four emperor’s palaces during the Tang dynasty, Yuhua Temple once had broad imposing architecture with five gateways leading from ten towers. Currently, it is the most well preserved palace ruin in China. Sucheng Courtyard is where Xuan Zang, the Master of the Tripitaka (a Buddhist scripture), translated Buddhist scriptures into Chinese for four years and later died.

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