Chongqing Luohan Temple yesterday called on skilled craftsmen from both home and abroad for bidding for jobs rebuilding the famed 500 Luohan (arhat) statues.
Located in Yuzhong District, the Luohan Temple was built during the 1064-1067 period and originally named Zhiping Temple. It was greatly damaged during the Yuan and Ming dynasties, but rebuilt in the 1752. In 1885, the abbot of the temple, Longfa, built the 500 Arhats Hall.
During the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-1945), Japanese air raids destroyed the Luohan Temple. Although the damage was repaired by Buddhist circles in 1945, almost all of the 500 arhat clay sculptures had collapsed. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, the government allocated special funds to repair the Luohan Temple, and listed it among the temples under key protection at the national level in 1983.
The preparatory committee for rebuilding the 500 arhat statues claims that these statues were damaged not only during the war, but also during the cultural revolution (1966-1976).
The abbot of the Luohan Temple believes that rebuilding the statues will help proliferate Chinese traditional culture and preserve traditional folk crafts. The new design for the statues features moisture-proof and insect-proof construction that should keep them preserved 400 to 500 years.
The statues will be made directly on site. The craftsmen will use hemp as the base material around a hollow shell and then paint them with layers of Chinese lacquer and cover them with gold foil. They'll assume different postures and are about 1.5 meters high and 35-40 kg each; the rebuilding of each statue costs at least 20,000 yuan.
The bidders may submit their bids to the Luohan Temple in person or by post before November 11, 2007. Please log on the Luohan Temple website for bidding details.
The rebuilt 500 arhat statues are expected to be ready for public viewing in a year and a half.