Great Ci'en Monastery 大慈恩寺https://architecturasinica.org/place/000295
- Great Ci'en Monastery (English)
- 大慈恩寺 (Traditional Chinese)
- 大慈恩寺 (Simplified Chinese)
- Dàcíēnsì (Pinyin)
- Ta-tz’u-en-szu (Wade-Giles)
- Ci'ensi (English)
- 慈恩寺 (Traditional Chinese)
- 慈恩寺 (Simplified Chinese)
陕西省西安市 Xi'an, Shaanxi
- Lat. 34.218089° Long. 108.959345°
In the 22nd year of the Tang Zhenguan reign period (648), crown prince Li Zhi 李治 (later Emperor Gaozong, r. 649-683) sponsored the construction of the Great Ci’en Monastery, also known as Ci’ensi or Daci’ensi, in Jinchangfang 晉昌坊, Chang'an, the capital of the Tang dynasty (Guojia wenwuju 1998, 45). Although built in memory of the emperor's deceased mother Empress Wende 文德皇后 (601-636), after its completion he invited the eminent monk Xuanzang 玄奘 (602–664) to establish his translation center there (Wong 2018, 10; Brose 2021, 79). The monastery was built at an unprecedented scale. In its heyday there were more than 10 courtyards and 1,897 bays (jian 間) of buildings. Xuanzang was the head of temple affairs presiding over the translation of 74 scriptures in 1335 volumes (Guojia wenwuju 1998, 45). Because of Xuanzang’s association with this monastery, it is considered to be the ancestral home of Faxiang 法相 (also known as Weishi 唯識) Buddhism (Chang 1988, 36-79).1
In order to store the Buddhist scriptures brought back from India, Xuanzang presided over the construction of a brick tower in the west courtyard of the temple in the third year of the Yonghui reign period (652) (Wong 2018, 22-28). Although Wuzong (814-846) ordered the suppression of Buddhism in the fifth year of the Huichang reign period (845), he expressly ordered the protection of Ci'en Monastery. The temple was destroyed in the battles at the end of the Tang dynasty, and since the Song dynasty, it has been repeatedly repaired, but the scale of the temple today is limited to the area around the tower. Except for the pagoda, the extant buildings were built in the Qing dynasty and modern times, covering an area of about 62,000 square meters and oriented facing the south (Guojia wenwuju 1998, 45).2
On the central axis, from the south to north, there are the Mountain Gate, Mahāvīra Treasure Hall, Dharma Hall, and Great Wild Goose Pagoda. Framing the courtyards on either side are bell towers, drum towers, east and west halls and wing rooms. A pagoda forest (talin 塔林) is located on the east side of the monastery. There are 198 inscriptions from the Tang, Ming, Qing, and Republican Period as well as scripture towers, iron bells, bronze Buddhist statues, clay statues, and architectural components. The monastery was further repaired in 1963 (Guojia wenwuju 1998, 45).3
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- 1 WONG. 2018. Buddhist Pilgrim-monks as Agents of Cultural and Artistic Transmission: the International Buddhist Art Style in East Asia, ca. 645-770, 10.; BROSE. 2021. Xuanzang: China's Legendary Pilgrim and Translator, 79.; 国家文物局. 1998. 中国文物地图集. 陕西分册, II:45; 138-C1.; 暢. 1988. 大慈恩寺, 36-79.
- 2 WONG. 2018. Buddhist Pilgrim-monks as Agents of Cultural and Artistic Transmission: the International Buddhist Art Style in East Asia, ca. 645-770, 22-28.; 国家文物局. 1998. 中国文物地图集. 陕西分册, II:45; 138-C1.
- 3 国家文物局. 1998. 中国文物地图集. 陕西分册, II:45; 138-C1.
- 4 WILKINSON. 2000. Chinese History: A Manual, 12.
How to Cite This Entry
Bibliography:Tracy Miller, “Great Ci'en Monastery 大慈恩寺 .” In Architectura Sinica, edited by Tracy Miller. Entry published 2021-12-08-15:00. https://architecturasinica.org/place/000295.
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Entry Title: Great Ci'en Monastery 大慈恩寺
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