Asia is home to 99 percent of the world’s largest statues. Americans might still marvel at the beautiful statue bestowed to the country by France, but Lady Liberty doesn’t hold a torch to the immense, intricately created statues of China, Japan, Thailand, and Burma. Many of the statues depict Gautama Buddha, also referred to as Siddhārtha or Shakyamuni Buddha, the spiritual leader and founder of Buddhism. Thailand’s Great Buddha represents Theravada, the oldest surviving branch still in practice of Buddhism. Translated to “Teachings of the Elders,” the Buddhist teachings are popular in Southeastern Asian countries Thailand and Myanmar. The Asian countries share several similar statues of the 33 forms of Guanyin or Kannon; however, they don’t share the same names, something that can confuse anyone without a basic understanding of Asian cultures, languages, or Buddhism. China’s Guan Yin also appears as Kuan Yin, Kuan Yim, and Guan Yim, which all depict Avalokitśvara. The female form represents the embodiment of the compassion of Buddha. In Japanese Buddhism refers to her as Kannon and Thailand uses Kuan Eim. In addition, Amitabha is a popular and simplified version Buddhism that originated in second century India. Nine of the countries with the largest followers of Buddhism are located in Asia. Half of the largest statues in Asia are in China, where 102 million Buddhists live. Each unique statue rests on a pedestal, building, or similar platform and range from 502-feet to 289-feet. In contrast, New York’s Statue of Liberty is 305-feet tall. The statues are in parks, protected areas, and often in close proximity to prominent temples. Constructed in concrete, steel, and bronze, as well as coated in gold, diamonds, and precious jewels, they are popular tourist attractions, drawing thousands of visitors each year.
10. The Grand Buddha, Lingshan, Jiangsu Province, China
Completed in 1996 as part of the 74-acre Taihu Lake National Tourist Resort and the Lingshan Buddhist Scenic Spot, the Grand Buddha in China’s Jiangsu province is an impressive 289 feet tall. The beautiful Buddha is located on the Majishan Peninsula where he stands tall on China’s Lingshan Mountain, with Small Mt. Lingshan in the background. The 1,000-year old Tang Dynasty’s Xaingfu Temple is a short distance from popular Chinese statue. Weighing more than 725 tons, architects of the attraction used 2,000 bronze sheets to construct region’s good luck piece. Reaching the Grand Buddha requires a workout. Visitors must climb the “Ascending Cloud Avenue,” a series of seven platforms with 216 steps. The steps represent 108 troubles and 108 wishes. At the end of the stairs is the base of the statue, which stands on a pedestal. Inside the pedestal is a three-floor museum to add to the visitor’s workout. However, that’s not all in vein; an elevator awaits those to the finish line to the top of the pedestal, where riders can touch the feet of the statue for good luck.
9. Dai Kannon at Kita no Miyakopark, Ashibetsu, Hokkaido, Japan
The 289-foot Buddhist statue is located in Japan’s largest prefecture or administrative districts, Hokkaido, in the city of Ashibetsu. Called the “Byakue Kannon” by locals, meaning, “the white robed” Kannon. The gold halo that sits behind her head sets her apart from other Kannon or Guanyin statues. Visitors can climb the 20-floors of the huge art piece that finished construction in 1989. “The Lord who looks down” has eight areas reserved for prayer inside the body of the statue.
8. The Great Buddha of Thailand
Thailand’s “Phra Buddha Maha Nawamin” or Theravada Buddha statue is in the Ang Thong province, north of Bangkok. A long time coming, the 302-foot cross-legged sitting Buddha’s construction began in 1990 but wasn’t complete until 2008. The depiction of Gautama Buddha is located a mile from the Wat Muang Temple. Historians speculate the temple dates to Japan’s Ayutthaya Period, about 1350. In temple is an expansive museum with a large, mirrored floor.
7. Guan Yin Statue, Hainan Island, China
It cost an estimated $4.1 million in 2009 after taking six years to complete; the Guan Yin Statue stands tall on the island of Hainan in China’s Hunan province. Surrounded by the South China Sea, the 325-foot, gilded bronze is a representation of the Guan Yin. She has three faces, one blessing all those inland and the other two are facing the sea, blessing the rest of the ocean’s inhabitants.
6. Sendai DaiKannon, Japan
Another representation of Kannon, the pristine white statue towers 330-feet over the Miyagi prefecture in Japan. Resting high on a hilltop, the Bodhisattva Buddhist opened in 1991. She holds one hand outward with a jewel encrusted in her palm and in the other hand is a pitcher of water in the pouring position. Greeting the visitors and worshipers is a fierce dragon’s mouth, sharp toothed entrance. There are 12 stories inside the impressive statue. Inside the temperature is cool, which is great for anyone tackling the journey to the top floor using the stairs instead of the elevator. Upon entering the great Kannon, there is a row of 33 small statues representing the 33 incarnations of the Kannon. Across from these statues is a set of 12 statues that depict the 12 symbols in Chinese Astrology. The elevator goes to the observatory, which provides a prayer area and windows to a view like no other-with blue skies, visitors can see all the way to the Pacific Ocean. On the way out, take the stairs, the stairway showcases 108 more Buddhist statues, these representing human desires, both good and bad.
5. Emperors Yan and Huang Statue, China
An effigy of Emperors Yan Di and Huang Di stares at the people in the city of Zhengzhou, the capital city of the Henan province. Completed in 2007, the 348-foot tribute took 20-years to finish. Glowing bright, they light up the night’s sky with 510 lights. The emperors are from China’s Pre-dynastic era, some 4,400 years ago. Despite a lack of written record, the Chinese people hold the emperors as a key part of their history and culture.
4. Guishan Guanyin of the Thousand Hands and Eyes, China
The beautiful 325-foot golden statue in Weishan, China represents the Guishan Guanyin. She is one of the six Guanyin gods of Buddhism. Built in 2009, she has 32 arms and is made of gilded bronze.
3. Ushiku Daibutsu, Ushiku, Japan
Ushiku Diabutsu, or Big Buddha, is a 360-foot bronze statue built in the Ibaraki prefecture of Japan. Built in 1993, the amazing tribute to the Amitabha Buddha. The Amitabha or Amitayus means immeasurable light or life. She stands on a 33-foot pedestal with a 10-foot lotus throne and weighs an immense 4,000 tons. There are five floors and a museum inside. Here visitors can take an elevator to the Buddha’s chest where an observatory provides an impressive view of the surrounding fields of wild flowers and well-stocked koi pond.
2. Laykyun Setkyar Statue, Monywa, Myanmar, Burma
Located in the Sagaing Division of Burma, the mellow yellow Laykyun Setkyar opened in 2008 in the small village of Khatakan Taung, is 427-feet tall. This includes the 381-foot statue and a 44-foot lotus throne. Construction of the representation of the Gautama Buddha took 12-years. Inside visitors will find 32 floors filled with statues and other wonders to see. Next to the Laykyun is the equally famous “Reclining Buddha,” which is 300-feet long.
1. The Spring Temple Buddha, Henan, China
Standing 502-feet with a 66-foot lotus throne on an 82-foot pedestal, the Spring Temple Buddha in China’s Henan province is the world’s tallest statue. Built in 2002 in retaliation of the Taliban’s destruction of the sixth century Buddha’s of Bamiyan in Afghanistan. The statue in the Fodushan Scenic Area cost an estimated $55 million to build. Resting on a monastery, visitors hoping to reach the escalator that goes to the lotus flower throne where they can touch the gigantic feet of the golden Buddha must climb the 365 steps. Once at the top, the reward is breathtaking views of the rolling countryside, small mountains, and surrounding dense forest in the secluded town of Pingdingshan. Nearby the area is the Foquan Temple, built during the Tang Dynasty. Inside the temple is the “bell of good luck,” one of the largest working bells in the world. The bell weighs 116-tons.
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