The restoration of a famous ancient Buddhist statue in southwest China is going smoothly and will be completed by 2014, local cultural authorities said on Wednesday.
The Qianshou (Thousand Hands) Guanyin (the bodhisattva associated with compassion as venerated by East Asian Buddhists) sculpture was carved some 800 years ago during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 to 1279) on Mount Baoding in Dazu county in the municipality of Chongqing.
The "Goddess of Mercy" has 1,007 arms, with one eye carved in each palm. The cave where the goddess lies is 7.7 meters high and 12.5 meters wide.
Over the centuries, the sculpture's color has faded, some of the gold foil covering has peeled off, cracks have appeared, and in 2007 part of one of the statue's many fingers fell off.
The restoration project, dubbed "China's No.1 rock heritage preservation project," kicked off in April and is expected to cost 40 million yuan (6.35 million U.S. dollars), according to an official with the city's culture, radio and TV bureau.
More than 50,000 individual rock carvings lie in the grottoes at Dazu. The carvings date back as early as the Tang Dynasty (618-907). They were listed as a major World Heritage site by the UNESCO in 1999.