Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Hangzhou explorations: Dreaming of the Tiger Spring (China)

Hi Sign Hunters!

The Hangzhou explorations series is back with a new part, which is already the fourth site that is being presented. Check out the previous posts on the “Treasures of Wushan”, “Eight Diagram Field and its surrounding hills”, and the “Jiangyangfan eco-park”. It will possibly take some time, but there are also many new posts to come, so stay engaged!

Today, we are going to take a little tour in Hangzhou’s famous Tiger Spring Park, also known as Hupao (虎跑) or Hupao Park (虎跑公园); thus, like the previous posts, our exploration carries on focusing on the West Lake (西湖) area. In fact, the Tiger Spring Park is situated near where the other three sites are. More precisely, the site is located largely on Hupao Hill (虎跑山) at the foot of Daci Hill (大慈山).

There is a legend about the origin of the spring. This says that in the 14th year (819) of the Yuanhe (元和) Reign of the Tang Dynasty (Emperor Xianzong, 唐憲宗), an eminent monk named Huanzhong (寰中, Posthumous title: Xingkong 性空) lived here. But there was no water in the area, so he intended to move somewhere else. One night he had a dream when God told him there was the Tongzi Spring in the Southern Mountain (Mt. Hengshan, 恒山) and that he would appoint two tigers to move the spring here. On the next day, Xingkong saw two tigers digging the earth and water gushing out. As a result, he named it the “Tiger Spring”. The Tiger Spring is one of the three famous springs of the West Lake and has been regarded “the third best in China”. The spring and, Hangzhou’s other famous product, the Longjing tea are called “two top specialities of the West Lake” (there will be more about Longjing village [龍井村] in one of the next posts).

The original site where tigers dig out the spring, as Monk Xingkong was told in his dream, is on the east side of Dicui Cliff/Pavilion (滴翠崖/轩). “The spring water is extremely pure, natural, precious, and inexhaustible. Sitting quietly by the spring and listening to its continuous tinkling sound similar to music playing, one feels much purified and relaxed.” Besides the ‘Tiger Spring’, in the park one can see the History Display Room, Li Shutong (Master Hongyi) Memorial Museum, the Dagoba of Master Hongyi, Jigong Pagoda Court, Jigong Hall, the Sculpture of Dreaming of Tigers, Dicui Cliff, Cuiyue Hall, and the Hall of Guanyin. Out of all these, the Hall of Guanyin feels very special; therefore, it is worth telling about it a little bit more.

Guanyin (观音), also known as “Avalokitesvara” (regarded as the world’s sounds and cries) and “Ishvara Bodhisattva (Bodhisattva free from delusion), is generally regarded as one of the “Three Saints in the West”, together with the other two, namely Amitabha and Mahasthamaprapta. Guanyin is not only the most popular Buddha among Chinese believers but also the most familiar and affectionate figure for the general public. She is much respected and loved due to “infinite mercy” and “assistance in relieving misery and distress”. There is a saying that “each household worships Amitabha and Guan-yin”. Due to her extensive believers, Guanyin exerts profound impact on various fields such as religion, art, literature etc. The Hall of Guanyin hosts porcelain statues as main objects on display. The main statue, made by porcelain artists in Jingdezhen (景德镇市), Jiangxi Province (江西省), is the largest indoor porcelain statue of Guanyin in China, as its body height is 1.9 metres and total height is 3.3 metres with its foundation. Implying 33 embodiment forms of Guanyin. There are other porcelain statues of Guanyin in various postures displayed inside, which are produced in Dehua county (德化县) in Fujian Province (福建省). These statues, the best of the best, are jointly created by 21 porcelain statue masters in Dehua.

I am pleased to share some photos with you taken in the Tiger Spring Park. Enjoy the journey!

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~ Laszlo

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© All photos were taken by Laszlo Bokor (2020). The Sign Hunters, all rights reserved.


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