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TIANTAI AN

TIANTAI AN
Wangqu, Shanxi Province, China
INFORMATION

Tiantai An is a small Buddhist temple located in a remote but populous valley in the Taihang mountain range, in Shanxi Province. Based on its style, scholars agree that Tiantai An dates from the Tang Dynasty (618-906 A.D.), when the Tiantai school of Buddhism matured and flourished in China. A small timber building with simple brackets, its brick walls rise over a square ground plan, covered by a traditional roof of gray tiles. First mentioned in 1958, the building was part of an exciting wave of rediscoveries in the twentieth century of the oldest surviving Chinese buildings, and remains an important link in the historical record.

Having survived war, earthquakes, and neglect—it was used for storage from 1949 until the 1980s—Tiantai An is now a landmark listed at the national level. It suffers from deterioration of its centuries-old timber structural members, and in 2005 the stone retaining wall on the temple’s platform suffered a partial collapse, which has not been fully repaired. The surrounding community, made up mostly of farmers, is proud of this temple because of its great antiquity, and has a strong interest in seeing it well-maintained. Nominators from Tsinghua University in Beijing, where a management plan is being developed, are proposing careful documentation and study for the restoration of this building in light of its exceptional historical significance. It is hoped that these planning efforts will serve as an important example of community engagement and conservation management that can benefit other heritage sites in the country.

Download a 2012 Watch poster of this site (see download instructions).

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TIANTAI AN
South façade of the main hall
TIANTAI AN
View of the village toward the South, with temple roof in the middle ground
TIANTAI AN
Roof structure of the main hall