Ordination Terrace Temple

Ordination Terrace Temple

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Jietaisi((Ordination Terrace Temple) is located at Ma’anshan (Saddle Hill) in the Western Hills, 35 kilometres west of Beijing. It was built in 622 in the Tang Dynasty, and was known as the Wisdom Accumulation Temple. In the Liao Dynasty, a monk named Fajun had an altar built here for the ordination of novices into the Buddhist priesthood. It was renovated and renamed the Longevity Temple under the Ming. The temple is commonly known as Jietaisi, Ordination Terrace Temple or “the place for selecting Buddhas.” Most of the present buildings were reconstructed in the Qing Dynasty.

The Mahavira Hall, the main hall in the Temple, originally contained ten carved sandalwood chairs made in the Ming Dynasty. Three of them were placed high above, for the abbot and two elders, and another three to the left and four to the right, for the witnesses to the ordination ceremony. Outside the hall there are two steles, one erected in the Jin Dynasty and the other in the Liao. In the northeast com-pound is the Ordination Altar made of white marble. It is a three-level altar over three metres high. The base is carved with figures of several hundred deities. Twenty-four of them are one metre high. They wear helmets and armour and look like warriors. The rest are about one-third their size. South of the altar is the Upali Hall, which contains the image of the Arhat Upali, one of the disciples of the Buddha.

South of the altar is the pagoda courtyard, in which stand two pagodas built in the Liao and Yuan dynasties. Not far from the court-yard is the Hall of the Brilliant Kings with a stone balustrade in front enclosing three stone pillars. They are inscribed with Buddhist sutras and images. Two of them were erected in the Liao Dynasty and the other dates from the Yuan, all in good condition. The temple is famous for its ancient pine trees: the Reclining-Dragon Pine, the Unrestrained Pine, the Nine-Dragon Pine, the Embracing-Pagoda Pine and the Sensitive Pine. It is said that if you sway one of the branches of the Sensitive Pine, the whole tree will shake.
Just as the Pool and Cudrania Temple is famous for its spring water, the Ordination Terrace Temple is noted for its ancient pine trees, which date from the Liao and Jin dynasties and are still growing luxuriantly.

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