Wenshu Monastery, located at No. 15 Wenshu Yuan Street, Chengu, Sichuan Province, is the best-preserved Buddhist temple in Chengdu. It is the home to the Buddhist Association of Sichuan Province and Chengdu City. Initially built during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Wenshu Monastery was once called Xinxiang Temple. In 1681, during the reign of Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Cidu, an accomplished Buddhist monk, came to the monastery. He built a simple hut between two trees and for several years lived an ascetic life there. Legend has it when Cidu was being cremated; the statue of Wenshu (Bodhisattva Manjusri in Sanskrit) appeared in the flames, staying for a long time. So people regarded Cidu as the reincarnation of the Bodhisattva Manjusri. Thereafter, Xinxiang Temple was named Wenshu Monastery.
Facing south and north, the Wenshu Monastery has 5 halls. Entering the vestibule, you will see, in turn, Tianwang Hall, Sandatu Hall, Daxiongbao Hall, Shuofa (sermon in Chinese) and Cangjing (preserve Buddhist sutra) Pavilion. There is a bell in front of the eastern wing-room and a drum in front of the western one. The dining room and reception room are in symmetrical rows. The halls are connected with each other by long colonnades. Having more than 190 rooms, the monastery covers over 20,000 sq. meters. The complex was made of stone and wood, with carefully polished column footstones, subtly sculptured column tops and windows of various beautiful patterns hollowed out in halls, it is the rare existing sample for the research of sculpture art of our ancient architecture. The Cangjing Lou stores over 10,000 precious Buddhist classics, including “Yao Shi” (apothecary in Chinese) and “Jingang Jing” (diamond sutra) granted by emperor Kangxi.
With the five halls and screen walls distributed on the 200-meter axis; broad and simple halls and pavilions with turn-up cornices, the monastery is a typical building of the Qing Dynasty. All the halls are in proper size and distribution with a clear bound between primary and secondary buildings. With beautiful scenery, yards and gardens melt with each other, making a very quiet and elegant environment.
The Wenshu Monastery is abundant in cultural relics and treasures. It worships some 300 Buddha statues of various materials including iron, mud, stone, wood, and jade. In terns of age, it stores stone inscription of the Liang Dynasty, iron statue of the Jie (Discipline) Spirit during the period of the Tang and Song Dynasties, bronze statue of the Qing Dynasty and jade Buddha of Burma, which are of high value of cultural relics and art, providing precious information for research on ancient sculpture and foundry. Besides, many precious paintings and calligraphies since the Tang and Song dynasties are stored here. One of the most famous one is the writing of “Kong Lin” granted and written by Emperor Kangxi, another is the scroll named “Hai Yue” (moon above sea) copied by Emperor Kangxi from the one of Mi Fei, a calligrapher in the Song Dynasty. In addition, there are lots of cultural relics of Buddhism, such as the Beiye Sutra of India, the broken skull of Xuan Zhang, a renowned monk of the Tang Dynasty, the Japanese bamboo slips of Buddhist sutra in the Tang Dynasty, a cassock with a pattern of thousands of Buddha, a Bodhivista embroidered from human hair, books written by 19th century monks using their own blood, the cross-stitch voile of Wenshu (Bodhisattva Manjusri in Sanskrit) image and etc.