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in a temple and then commenced the ascent of the mountain the next morning.
On the 30th we travelled up by the bed of a torrent through woods which gradually thickened into forest, passing many a temple and shrine, until we reached the foot of a long series of stone stairs, and clinibed to our breakfast halt in a monastery of forty monks-Fu-hu-ssu, "the tiger-taming temple." Its numberless halls and galleries, built entirely of timber, contain more than 800 statues of Buddhist saints and celebrities, none smaller than life, and several of colossal size, each having a seperate individuality of lineaments, dress, and attributes, and an attitude which is not repeated. A Chinese artist was engaged in putting the finishing touches to a quadruple Buddha with thirty-two arms, standing about 12 feet high, beautifully executed in a very un-Chinese style. Above this a steep climb of 1400 feet, or thereabouts, leads up through pine groves interspersed with nan-mu trees, one of which I noticed 2 feet in diameter, and more than 150 feet in height. Nearly all the buildings I saw on the lower slopes of Mount Omi, or (), as it is locally called for brevity's sake, are monasteries, and with the exception of monks, some 2000 in number, there are hardly any inhabitants but a few innkeepers. The land is Church property. There is a certain cultivation in small clearings, but generally speaking the whole mountain is covered with forest.
We had now attained the foot of the central mountain, the ascent of which is made painful rather than easy by the stone steps which have been laid down for the benefit of pilgrims; but there are many gradients which it would be impossible to climb without them.... We made the Wan-nien-ssŭ, (Myriad Years Monastery) early in the evening, and in the clump of temples of which it is the centre we found much instruction and amusement.
Just below it, in a kind of hostel, is a statue of Buddha twenty-five or more feet high, of a very rude and archaic style, reputed to be the oldest idol on the mountain. It is said to be bronze, but I took it for pure copper. Nothing could be learned of its age. A more artistic work is found in a temple behind Wan-nien-ssŭ, in a separate shrine. Passing under a dark archway we entered a hall in the middle of which, as soon as we could see through the dim religious light, we observed a kind of palisade, and inside it an elephant cast in magnificent bronze, or some such composition, nearly as white as silver. The surface is of course black with age and the smoke of incense, but I was able to judge the colour of the metal by inspecting a patch which has been worn down by a practice of devotees who rub coins on it and carry them away as relics. The size of the image is that of a very large elephant, that is to say some 12 feet high; its peculiarities are that it is somewhat too bulky, the trunk seems rather too long, and that it has six tusks, three on each side. With these exceptions, the modelling is excellent, and a glance shows that the artist must have studied from life, for the folds of skin on various parts of the body, and the details of the trunk are rendered with great success, though with a certain conventionalism. The creature has been cast in three sections, belly and legs forming the lower, and back the uppermost......... Each of his feet stands on a bronze lotus, and on his back the mammoth bears in place of a howda another huge lotus-flower, in which is enthroned an admirable image of Buddha, cast, I was told, of the same metal, but thickly gilt, his crown of glory towering to a height of 33 feet above the floor. Though generally called a Buddha, the image represents P'u-hsien Pu-sa, the saint who is the patron or patroness, for the Chinese credit him with female permutations, of Mount O. The monks told me that P'u-hsien descended upon the mountain in the form of an elephant and that the casting commemorates the manifestation. But it may more probably bear an allusion to the well known vision in which the mother of Buddha saw before his birth a white elephant with six tusks.
The fane which encloses the casting is not less curious, being a hollow cube, covered with a hemisphere, and roofed with a pyramid. The walls of the cube are twelve feet thick, and the floor of the interior is a square of thirty-three feet on each side. The square becomes modified into a circle as the courses rise, by a transition which is gradual and pleasing, but which it is impossible to describe without the knowledge of technical terms. Speaking clumsily, the four walls each terminate in a semicircular outline, the summit of each semicircle touching the circumferencei.e. the base of the dome, and the four corners are each filled with three masses of brickwork, the surface outline of the central mass being an oval pointed at both ends, and the two others being spherical triangles. The faces of all three are concave. The circumference of the dome is evolved from a square without any awkward
abruptness; and it is only on attempting to describe it geometrically that the arrangement begins to appears puzzling. To the eye the process of squaring the circle is perfectly simple. The dome however springs from a rim which stands a little back from the circle thus formed, and so gains a few additional feet of diameter and increased lightness of appearance. The vault is to all appearance a hemisphere, very smoothly and exactly constructed. The only light which enters is admitted by the two arched doorways, before and behind the elephant.
With respect to the age and origin of the shrine and its contents, the most authentic information is found in the Ssu-ch'uan Topography to the following effect. The monastery of 'Clear Water P'u-hsien,' on Mount Omi, the ancient monastery where (the Patriarch) P'u served Buddha, dates from the Chin Dynasty (A.D. 265-313).....It was named 'Clear Water P'u-hsien Monastery' under the Sungs; Wan-li, of the Mings, changed its style to Saintly longevity of a myriad years.' The Hall of great (' stood in front, facing which was the monument of Illustrious Patriarchs of the South,' and on the left the monument of Sylvan Repose.' The buildings included a series of seven shrines, the first of which contained a 'P'i-lu,' the second seven Buddhas, the third a Deva king, the fourth a guardian deity (Chin-kang), and the fifth a great Buddha; the sixth was a revolving spiral constructed of brick, enclosing a gilded bronze image of l'u-hsien, sixteen feet high, mounted on an elephant. In the beginning of the Sung Dynasty (A.D. 960) orders were given to set up a bronze shrine and a bronze image also, more than 100 feet high..... The existing building is obviously "the revolving spiral" here mentioned, and the awkwardness of the term, which conveys no idea to a Chinaman, is another proof that the builders were not Chinese. It seems safe to conclude that the builders of the P'u-hsien shrine, as well as the artists who designed the castings, were Indian Buddhists.
It does not seem likely that the "great Buddha" alluded to in the above citation, is the bronze (or copper) colossus which stands in a hostel a few hundred yards from the Wan-nien-ssu. If the 66 great Buddha " had been of bronze the fact would have been mentioned. It may be that the extant statue is all that remains of the bronze shrine and the bronze image also more than 100 feet high. The word "also" has no correlative in the text, but the passage is an extract from some previous work, and the implied reference may well have disappeared in the process of compilation. height of 100 feet may be taken as applying to the shrine and perhaps a pagoda. like spire. The existing Buddha is, as I have said, about 25 feet high, and as compared with the elephant is a distressingly feeble conception. The latter, though more severe in style than modern realism is pleased to admire, cannot be refused the praise of excellence, and I am not indulging the fondness of a discoverer in assert. ing that it would not disgrace a reputable artist of any school or epoch. China is reproached with being destitute of ancient monuments, and one may be pardoned a certain self-gratulation upon the discovery of what may be considered, next to the Great Wall, the oldest Chinese building of fairly authentic antiquity, containing the most ancient bronze casting of any great size in existence. It is not every day that a tourist stumbles upon a handsome monument fifteen centuries old.
Wan-nien-ssu is 3500 above sea-level, and Chieh-yin-tien is at an elevation of 9000 feet.
It is an easy walk from Chih-yin-tien to the summit, although a formidable staircase of 400 or 500 feet is encountered at the outset. About this point the pines attain their greatest size. We saw several which divided into two trunks a few feet above the ground, and which are said to yield the best timber. The path grows easy at about 10,000 feet, where a great variety of flowering plants and ferns line its border. Above that elevation the pines begin to fall off, but the slopes are still well wooded with smaller kinds. Thick beds of weeds are passed, a plentiful growth of large thistles is remarked, then comes a potato-field, and we issue on to the highest point of 0, known as the "Golden Summit."
The comparatively level space on the top-about an acre-is so holy that our company reached it in a high state of exaltation. The first object to be examined was a brouze temple of such excessive sanctity that it has been struck by lightning innumerable times. I had been led to suppose that it was still standing, the last of a long line of metallic buildings which had been successively demolished by thunderbolts; but I only found it in ruins. The last thunder-bolt had fallen in 1819, since which event it had not been restored. The masses of metal at present lying in a heap on the summit consist of pillars, beams, panels, and tiles, all of fine bronze. The pillars are nine feet long and eight inches in diameter, the thickness of matorial
being rather less than an inch, for of course they are hollow. The only complete beam I could discover was a hollow girder 15 feet long, nine inches broad, and four inches through, the thickness of bronze being much the same as in the pillars. The panels, of which I estimated there are about forty-six, are of the average dimensions of five feet by one foot seven inches. They are about an inch thick, but their frames are thicker, and for some unintelligible reason have slips of iron let into their edges. The panels are very handsomely ornamented with seated Buddhas, flowers, and scrollwork, and with hexagonal araberques of various modification. The tiles, also of bronze, resemble in shape ordinary Chinese tiles, but are twice as large. Besides there are several hundred of iron tiles stacked together. Many supplementary fragments, such as sockets, capitals, corner-pieces, eave-términals, and decorative adjuncts, were lying about, all far too massive to be carried away down the steep mountain, even if the priests would have allowed them to be abstracted.
It is not easy to guess what the size and shape of the building has been. The priests told me that externally it had two stories, that the interior was 19 feet 6 inches high, the same in breadth, and 26 feet long. If so it could not have been the shrine built by the Emperor Wan-li, for an imposing bronze tablet, which with pedestal and crown-piece stands 64 feet high by 32 inches in width, records that the dimensions of the shrine were 25 feet high, 114 feet long, and 13 broad, and that it was erected in 1603.
A few yards from the site of the bronze shrine is a temple crowned by a golden ball-whence the name of the Golden Summit. Passing through this on to a small terrace, we find we are at last on the brink of Shê-sheng-ngai ("the suicides' cliff"), perhaps the highest precipice in the world. The edge guarded by chains and posts, which for further precaution one is not allowed to touch; but as the posts stand out a little over the precipice, one can easily look down without holding by them. The abyss was nearly full of mist, and I could not see more than 400 or 500 feet into it. The face of the rock seemed vertical. When I first caught sight of the mountain from a distance of 50 miles or more it might have been likened to a crouching lion decapitated by a down-right stroke close to the shoulders, the fore feet remaining in position. The down-cleft surface, i.e. the precipice, looked not more than 15° out of the vertical, but the steepest profile was not visible from that point of view. So far as I could estimate, the upper two-thirds at least of the mountain are cut sheer down in this manner. My results for the height give 11,100 feet above the sea for the summit, and 1,700 feet for the country below; but from a cause which I need not here explain, the measurement is open to a suspicion of error to the amount of about 500 feet in the case of the summit. Even if this allowance be deducted, this tremendous cliff is still a good deal more than a mile high.
Naturally enough, it is with some trepidation that pilgrims approach this fearsome brink; but they are drawn to it by the hope of beholding the mysterious apparition known as the "Fo-kuang" or "Glory of Buddha," which floats in mid-air half-way down. So many eye-witnesses had told me of this wonder that I could not doubt; but I gazed long and steadfastly into the gulf without success, and came away disappointed but not incredulous. It was discribed to me as a circle of brilliant and many-coloured radiance, broken on the outside with quick flashes, and surrounding a central disk as bright as the sun, but more beautiful. Devout Buddhists assert that it is an emenation from the aureole of Buddha, and a visible sign of the holiness of Mount O.
Impossible as it may be deemed, the phenomena does really exist. I suppose no better evidence could be desired for the attestation of a Buddhist miracle than that of a Baptist Missionary, unless, indeed, it be, as in this case, that of two Baptist missionaries. Two gentlemen of that persuasion have ascended the mountain since my visit, and have seen the Glory of Buddha several times. They relate that it resembles a golden sun-like disc, enclosed in a ring of prismatic colors, more closely blended than they are in a rainbow. As far as they could judge, by noticing marks on the face of the precipice, the glory seemed to be about 2000 feet below them. It could not be seen from any spot but the edge of the precipice. They were told, as I was, that it sometimes appears by night, and although they did not see it at such an hour, they do not consider the statement incredible.
It may be imagined how the sight of such a portent, strange and perplexing as it would seem in any place, but a thousandfold more astonishing in the depth of this terrible abyss, must impress the fervour of simple and superstitious Buddhists. The spectacle attracts pilgrims from all parts of China and its dependencies. Even Nipalese occasionally journey to the mountain. The Thibetans, lovers of their native snows, prefer the winter for the season of pilgrimage. The only tribes which do not contribute devotees are the Lolos; but although they are not Buddhists, one of them
told me that their three deities Lui-wo, A-pu-ko and Shua-she-po, dwell on the "Golden Summit."
The missionaries inform me that it was about three o'clock in the afternoon, near the middle of August, when they saw the meteor, and that it was only visible when the precipice was more or less clothed in mist. It appeared to be in the surface of the mist, and it was always in the direction of a line drawn from the sun through their heads, as is certified by the fact that the shadow of their heads was seen on the meteor. They could get their heads out of the way, so to speak, by stooping down; but they are not sure if they could do so by stepping aside. Each spectator, how. ever, could see the shadows of the bystanders, as well as his own projected on the appearance. They did not observe any rays spreading from it. The central disc, they think, is a reflected image of the sun,, and the enclosing ring is a rainbow. The ring was in thickness about one-fourth of the diameter of the disc, and distant from it by about the same extent; but the recollection of one informant was that the ring touches the disc without any intervening space. The shadow of a head, when thrown upon it, covered about one-eighth of the wheel diameter of the meteor. The rainbow ring was not quite complete in its lower part, but they attribute this to the interposition of the edge of the precipice. They see no reason why the appearance should not be visible at night when the moon is brilliant and appositely placed. They profess themselves to have been a good deal surprised, but not startled, by the spectacle. They would consider it remarkable rather than astonishing, and are disposed to call it a very impressive phenomenon."* pp. 31-43, but some passages are omitted.
In his tour through Szechuen Mr. Baber has come to the knowledge of facts which clear up a matter that has been a mystery for some sixteen years. It was known at the time of the Tai-ping rebellion, that one of the rebel leaders led an army into Szechuen Province; but it had never been clearly made known what had become of this army or its general. Mr. Baber thus narrates the account of the matter:
At the risk of overcrowding these pages, with tales of calamity and massacre, I am bound to relate the story-rather, the history-of a crowning mercy which can. not fail to interest those who sympathized with, or who opposed, the rebellion of the Tai-pings. What became of Shih Ta-k'ai, the assistant King? is a question which foreigners have often asked. I found a reply on the banks of the T'ung. The following account, taken from official sources hitherto unexplored, gains additional import. ance from its geographical allusions. Most of the localities mentioned occur in my chart; the remainder are indicated in notes.
"In January 1863, after having been, routed in a series of engagements on the Hêng river, Shih Ta-k'ai, the most ferocious and crafty of the rebel kings, formed his troops into three divisions, one of which he sent from Fu-kuan-ts'un into the Province of Kueichou. (With this division we are not further concerned.) His lieutenant, Lai Yü-hsin, was despatched into Chien-ch'ang with the second division, Shih Ta-k'ai himself intending to follow with the main body. Lai's corps of 30,000 or 40,000 men accordingly marched to Hui-li-chou, and thence to Tê-ch'ang, where a great many recruits were gained among the opium traders and disorderly characters of the neighbour. hood. They reached Ning-yuan Fu on the 16th March, but were defeated next day, with a loss of 2000 by an Imperialist force; still pressing on, they made an unsuccessful assualt upon Mien-shan on the 21st, and were again worsted at Yueh-hsi-ting, losing their leader, Lai Yü-hsin, who was killed by a Lolo with a stone. Hurrying forward in great disorder, they crossed the Tung on the 26th and continued onwards by Ching-ch'i Hsien and Jung-ching Hsien into the Tien-ch'uan country, through which they passed into Northern Ssu-ch'uan." (There they appear to have dispersed, whether of their own intent, or in consequence of repeated attacks is not clear; but it is fairly certain that a large proportion made off into Shensi and Kansu.)
Shih Ta-k'ai "careless of distance or danger, and always on the watch for an opening," had sent forward this division to divert attention from his own movements, expecting, it was presumed, that the Imperialist forces would follow in hot pursuit, without looking to their rear, or concerning themselves with the possible advance of
*This remarkable phenomenon is evidently similar to that of the Giant of the Brocken, regard. ing which see Sir David Brewster's Natural Magic, 1833, p. 130.
a second rebel corps. The Governor-General Lo Ping-chang, however, foresaw the design and made dispositions to frustrate it. In his memorial on the subject he remarks that the importance of occupying all the approaches from Chien-ch'ang became evident. The T'ung river, the natural protection of the south-western frontier, rising in the country of the Tien-ch'uan tribes, runs through the Yü-t'ung region, past the Wa-ssŭ Ravine and Lu-ting Bridge, into the Lêng-pien and Shên-pien districts traverses the Magistrature of Ching-ch'i, and then enters the Lolo territory. We had, therefore, to guard the line from An-ch'ing-pa to Wan-kung, a length of more than 200 li, including thirteen ferries, exposed to an advance both by the Yueh-hsi road, and the track viâ Mienning Hsien.
"Lai's band by this time had escaped into Shensi. After measures had been taken to cut off their return, the Lolo chief Ling was directed to occupy the Yueh-hsi passes, so as to preveut Shih Ta-k'ai from entering the Lolo territory. Presents were, at the same time, distributed among Ling's Lolos and the aboriginal troops of 'Thousand Family' Wang to encourage and stimulate their zeal.
"Tang Yu-kêng's force reached the T'ung on the 12th of May, Shih Ta-k'ai having in the meanwhile crossed the upper Yangtsze at Mi-loong-pa, entered Chien-ch'ang, found the Yueh-hsi main road blocked, took the alternative route by Mien-ning Hsien, and so descended on the 15th with 30,000 or 40,000 men upon the lage of Tzu-ta-ti, in the district governed by Thousand Family Wang, at the confluence of the Sung-lin with the Tung. During the night both streams rose several yards in consequence of heavy rains, rendering the passage dangerous, and the rebels begun to construct rafts.
"On May 24th, Ling, coming up with his Lolos from Yueh-hsi, fell upon the rear of the rebels near Hsin-ch'ang, and after repeated attacks captured their camp on Saddle Hill, on the night of the 29th. From that moment the rebel case became hopeless. After a futile attempt to gain over the native chiefs Wang and Ling, Shih Ta-k'ai, furious at finding himself involved in a situation from which escape was impossible, slaughtered 200 local guides as a sacrifice to his banners, and on the night of the 3rd of June, attempted to force the passage of the main river and of the affluent simultaneously. Both assaults were again repulsed. After killing and horses, the rebels, now reduced to the last extremity of famine, were allaying their ating their hunger by chewing the leaves of trees; nevertheless, on the 9th of June, they made another general attack upon the crossings, but all their rafts were either sunk or carried away down the swift current.
"The end had come. Thousand Family Wang, reinforced by the Mo-si-mien detachment, passed the Sung-lin on the 11th of June, and assaulted the rebel quarters at Tzuta-ti. At the same time the Lolo auxiliaries, coming down from Saddle Hill, advanced upon the rear of the position, which was thus completely enveloped. Thousands of the insurgents were killed in the actual attack; but all the approaches to the place being commanded by precipices and confined by defiles, the fugitives became huddled to gether in a dense mass, upon which the regulars kept up a storm of musketry and artillery while the Lolos, occupying the heights, cast down rocks and trunks of trees which crushed then or swept them into the river. More than 10,000 corpses floated away down the Tung.
"Shih Ta-k'ai, with 7000 or 8000 followers, escaped to Lao-wa-hsüan, where he was closely beset by the Lolos. Five of his wives and concubines, with two children, joined hands and threw themselves into the river, and many of his officers followed their example. As it was indispensable to capture him alive, a flag was set up at Hsima-ku displaying the words 'Surrender, and save your lives' and on the 13th he came into the camp, leading his child, four years of age, by the hand, and gave himself up with all his chiefs and followers. Some 4000 persons, who had been forcibly compelled to follow him were liberated, but the remaining 2000, all inveterate and determined rebels, were taken to Ta-shu-pu, where, on the 18th of June, Government troops having been sent across the river for the purpose, a signal was given with a rocket, and they were surrounded and despatched. Shih Ta-k'ai and three others were conveyed to Ch'êng tu on the 25th, and put to death by the slicing process; the child was reserved until he had reached the age presented by regulation for the treatment of such cases."
The above is a condensed extract from an official report contained in the memoirs of Lo Ping-chang Governor-General of Ssu-chu'an. The main facts are unquestionably authentic, but the story is of course written from the Imperial point of view, which regards all opponents as bandits and miscreants, who can hardly hope to escape condign vengeance. pp. 53-56.