Walk around the Underground Palaces

By Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

In India, after a relic was placed in a reliquary, it was usually enshrined within a chamber at the center of a stupa. The storage of relics and the shape of the stupas were adapted and changed after the introduction of Buddhism into China. During the Northern Wei Dynasty, reliquaries were placed inside stone caskets and then buried in rammed earth under the base of a pagoda. At that time, the Chinese tomb-style underground palaces had not yet been integrated into Buddhist practice. After the Sui dynasty, rectangular or square stone slabs were laid on the top and around the four sides of the buried stone caskets, and then surrounded by brick walls. This represents one of the earlier models of underground palaces in the transitional phase from the Northern Wei Dynasty, when stone caskets were buried in rammed earth under the base of a pagoda, to the Tang Dynasty when underground palaces were constructed.

Find out why Venerable Master Hsing Yun constructed 48 Underground Palaces in this video.

Story of the Underground PalacesFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

Welcoming visitors to the Museum of Buddhist Underground Palaces is the Seated Bodhisattva (dated 960-1279)

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva by Fo Guang Shan Buddha MuseumFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

This is a set of doors that leads one to the underground palace. It dates back to the Tang dynasty (618-907).

Underground Palace Door by Fo Guang Shan Buddha MuseumFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

In the Famen Temple Underground Palace, people found a nesting of eight reliquaries, and inner most reliquary contains the Buddha's relic.

A Nesting Set of Elight Reliquaries by Fo Guang Shan Buddha MuseumFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

This is a typical example of a reliquary found in Chinese underground palaces. Can you see they are shaped in the form of a Chinese casket? And these caskets hold the Buddha's relics.

Reliquary Sarcophagus and Reliquary Bottle by Fo Guang Shan Buddha MuseumFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

This is a fine piece of artwork also discovered in the Famen Temple Underground Palace. It shows the architectural style and elements of the Tang dynasty. You can see how intricate it is.

Pavilion by Fo Guang Shan Buddha MuseumFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

There are 48 underground palaces designed in the Buddha Museum. These palaces are opened once every hundred years. Items commemorative of human faith and cultural values are collected each year.

Bronze Avalokitesvara in Contemplation by Fo Guang Shan Buddha MuseumFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

This item commemorate the first mission of the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1984. It reminds people of how space exploration was a great leap forward for humankind.

Diecast Metal Replica Removable Space Lab Payload by Fo Guang Shan Buddha MuseumFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

This is a statue of Dipamkara Buddha, a Buddha in the past. According to Buddhist texts, Dipamkara prophesied that Megha would one day become a Buddha by the name of Sakyamuni.

Dipamkara Buddha by Fo Guang Shan Buddha MuseumFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

Within the gallery, there is a countdown timer that displays the time remaining to the opening of the first underground palace. The video on the left shows the curation ceremony held annually.

Countdown to the Opening of Underground Palaces by Fo Guang Shan Buddha MuseumFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

Toward the end of the gallery is a sutra pillar. It is sculpted with a Buddhist mantra and is commonly found on crossroads in order to bring blessings to all people who get to see it.

Stele Inscribed with Universal Gate Chapter of the Lotus Sutra by Fo Guang Shan Buddha MuseumFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

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Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum
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