Yunju Monastery

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  • Chinese: 雲居寺 (Yunju-si)

The Yunju Monastery, located in Fangshan (a short distance from Beijing), is a major Buddhist cave-temple in China dating back, in parts, to the Sui Dynasty.

The temple consists of nine caves; the central cave, which is also the largest and the oldest, is called Thunder Sound Cave. One hundred forty-six stone tablets bearing Buddhist inscriptions stand within the cave, and roughly one thousand Buddhas (in total) are carved into the four pillars in the center of the space. The name of each Buddha is given in inscriptions on the pillars, a feature associated with the Sui Dynasty.

Forty-two hundred stone tablets in total, preserving Buddhist texts that would otherwise have decayed away were they on paper or silk, have been found in the nine caves, and another 10,000 buried elsewhere on the grounds of the temple. Such tablets were enclosed within the caves from the 7th through the 10th centuries, after which time the caves were sealed up, and the temple's monks began to instead bury the tablets in the ground.


  • Valerie Hansen, The Open Empire, New York: W.W. Norton & Company (2000), 194-195.
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