Go around the world of Buddha statues 28: The beginning of God statue in China 6

仏像を巡って 28: 中国の神像の始まり 6

 1 茅山  

< 1. A statue of Taoism in one of Taoism’s sacred spots >

< 1. 道教の聖地茅山、大きな尊像が見える >


This time, we look at the situation that statue of Taoism was born.

It resulted after Buddhism had become popular.




How was god statue of Taoism born?

Here, I explain it by applying the word “statue of Taoism (Tianzun)” to god statue






< 2. Triad statues >

< 2. 三尊像 >

In fact, one of these is a Buddha statue, and the others are statues of Taoism.

These resemble closely so that we cannot notice the difference.


Fig. J: Triad statues of Taoism in the early 6th century.

This was the first thing as single independent statue.


Fig. K: Triad statues of Taoism in the middle of 6th century.


Fig. L: Triad statues of Buddhism in the 4th – 6th century.


The characteristic of the statue of Taoism is a crown on the head, a short staff of bamboo with bundled hair, and a bent desk of three legs.

Fig. K and O show it clearly.





図J: 道教三尊像、北魏、6世紀初め。



図K: 道教三尊像、北周、6世紀中頃。


図L: 仏教三尊像、北魏、4~6世紀。






< 3. Triad statues of Taoism (The Three Pure Ones) >

< 3. 道教の三尊像 >


In Buddhism, Buddha doesn’t stand in line with three persons, but in Taoism, statues of Taoism that are nearly same class (the supreme god) stand in line with three persons.

But after all, the middle statue is the highest class.

There are many kinds of statue of Taoism by the religious sect of Taoism.

In Buddhism, the middle of triad statues is a rule to be the Buddha, but there are many different types in Taoism.


Fig. M: Yun Gang cave shrine, the 8th century

There are many huge cave temples in Buddhism, but only there are a few of small cave shrines in Taoism.

This cave shrine consists of 9 caves, but there are 1400 caves in Longmen Grottoes of Buddhism.


Fig. N: No. 5 cave in Yun Gang cave shrine, the 8th century

This is the same as Buddha statue except a crown.


Fig. O: Triad statues of Taoism in a Taoist temple of Shanghai







図M: 龍山石窟、山西省、唐、8世紀。




図N: 龍山石窟第5窟、8世紀。



図O: 道教三尊像、太清宮、上海。



A huge change of Chinese religion occurred

The Buddhism was introduced into China in the first century, but was not accepted very much first.

It was because Buddhism was a religion of different ethnic groups, and had “a never-ending cycle of life and death” as a doctrine that opposed a view of life and death of Han people.

However, after about the 3rd century, the Chinese religion changed during war-torn era.

Confucianism that only preached the morality to government clerk declined, and Taoism became popular because of having preached perpetual youth and longevity, and disease recovery by prayer.

At the same time, some northern people that founded the many nations in the northern part of China adopted logical Buddhism.


Afterward, Buddhism and Taoism gained many believers along with competing each, and many dynasties made each a state religion or prohibited the religion.

Thus, Buddha statues had spread in first, and statues of Taoism were made by copying it.


On the next time, we look at the wonder of the religion behind the birth of statue of Taoism.

















Categories: culture+society, history+evolution, <english language, <japanese language, Series: Go around the world of Buddha statues | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Go around the world of Buddha statues 28: The beginning of God statue in China 6

  1. Fabulous and fascinating!

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