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Thirty-five people showed fierce enthusiasm for the auction of a head from a Tang Dynasty-era (618-907) Buddha statue at Sotheby's New York. Bought by 35 patriotic bidders, the stone statue piece returned home and was donated to Wanfodong Zhenrong Temple in Wutai Mountain on July 10.|
The stone Buddha head handover ceremony was held that morning. Longming, the abbot of the temple, welcomed the Buddha head statue along with over 100 monks and believers.
"The return of a 1,000-year-old statue reflects the support and attention people from all walks of life have given to passing on culture and protecting cultural heritage," Longming said. "The Buddha statue will be treasured in Zhenrong Temple permanently and will go on display in a proper way, thus becoming a method for studying history, appreciating art and inheriting culture. The donation from these people will stay as a part of the Buddha's story, encouraging more people to help lost cultural relics get back home."
Located in Shanxi Province, Wanfodong Zhenrong Temple is a wooden building being reconstructed in the Tang Dynasty style. Work is still underway.
The original temple was first built in the dynasty's Zhenyuan era (785-804), yet it suffered complete destruction due to religious persecution by Emperor Wuzong of Tang starting in 842. Before World War II, the temple underwent a restoration, during which around 10,000 Buddha statues hidden from Wuzong were found, giving the temple the name Wanfo Cave (wanfodong in Chinese). After that, the temple gradually declined and only the cave, where more than 10,000 Buddha statues were found, and a five-story hexagonal pagoda remain. This Wanfodong Zhenrong Temple started reconstruction on that site, closely abiding by ancient Chinese construction rules.