A huge statue of Buddha has been discovered in southwestern China with its head missing. It is believed that the 9m-high (30-foot) statue dates back to the Qing dynasty but its exact date of creation is not known. It is found between two high-rise residential buildings in the Nanan district of Chongqing.
The statue gained attention after its pictures went viral online and residents who have been living nearby the structure told local media that they have been unaware of its existence. District cultural heritage department of Nanan district are yet to study the sculpture and think about its preservation.
According to a report by Chongqing Radio, the authorities are still not clear about the date it was carved and the concerned officers are investigating its cultural value. The district office said that the statue’s head was destroyed in around 1950s.
The now two residential buildings were built at the site of a temple in 1990. The temple named Leizu was established between 1910s to 1940s. It was demolished in 1987 and the architects made two buildings at the same spot. The sculpture was uncovered during the clearing of foliage in the area and was recognized as district-level protected cultural heritage in the 1990s.
A woman with surname Zheng told Chongqing Radio that she had no idea about the Buddha statue despite living there for decades. She added that it was covered with leaves. “The construction [of the sculpture] halted after the People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949,” she told the radio.
After the clearing of leaves, residents saw how enormous the structure is. From the pictures doing rounds online, one can see Buddha statue seated with both hands holding a round rock in front of his belly. Although its left leg and wrists seem damaged and the outlines of the torso were visible. Its head is missing.
Zheng, while in conversation with radio, also stated that earlier in 1950s, she had heard about a Buddha statue inside the temple and she remembers that Buddha’s head hadn’t been carved out.
In conversation with the Beijing news, an employee of Nanan’s cultural heritage department said that they can’t give a professional conclusion on when it was exactly built. “Speculation was spreading widely on the internet that it dated back to the Northern Song dynasty, Southern Song dynasty or Qing dynasty,” she added. The officials also said that an investigation and a protection plan will be made and they have invited heritage experts to investigate.