'Temple at Canton displaying Buddha (past, present and future)' [Guangzhou, China]
The presence of a set of three such gilded figures of Buddha in a temple, representing past, present and future, is fairly common. Butt does not name the temple but it may be that of Honam which is the location of the next drawing in the series (PAJ2081). This seven-acre sanctuary is described (with a photograph of its inner gate) by John Thompson in volume 1 of his 'Illustrations of China and its People' (1873): 'Honam Temple, one of the largest Buddhist establishments in the south of China, stands on the southern bank of the Pearl River at Canton.... We next ascend by a flight of broad steps to an inner causeway, and the vista shown in the photograph comes thereupon into view. Beyond, in a central court, is the adytum, or inmost shrine, where three images of Buddha glisten with a coating of polished gold. Here the air is laden heavily with the fumes of incense, rising in spiral columns from the altar in front of the gods. A priest tends the burning tapers that from generation to generation have been kept alight; and all round are bowls of bronze, and vases filled with ashes, embers of incense sticks, and the relics of a thousand votive gifts...'.
Lt. James Henry Butt
Original size: 121 mm x 159 mm
- Image reference: PT2081
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
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