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Chinese Buddhism's birthplace remains a place of pilgrimage

By Xu Lin | China Daily | Updated: 2016-01-11 08:03

Chinese Buddhism's birthplace remains a place of pilgrimage

Guoqing Temple, the initial monastic site believed to be the source of the Tiantai School of Buddhism.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Zhejiang province's Tiantai county is celebrated as the source of what's believed to be China's first indigenous school of Buddhism.

Guoqing Temple in today's Tiantai Mountains Scenic Area was the sect's initial monastic site. It was founded by Sui Dynasty (AD 581-618) monk Zhiyi, who's said to be the first Chinese to devise a systematic and complete Buddhist theology.

The Tiantai School peaked in the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) when it was exported to Japan and Korea. Many Japanese and Koreans visit today.

Resident monks live ascetic lives, worshiping and growing rice and vegetables for subsistence. These devout have heaped over 50 large bamboo baskets of rice in the Hall of the Four Heavenly Kings, the divine deities who symbolize harvest.

A yellow screen, etched with calligraphy spelling out the temple's name, and a brick carving of a dragon shielded entrance gates in ancient times.

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