Nanchan Temple

View of Nanchan Temple

Nanchan Temple is a Buddhist temple located in Shanxi Province of China.


The Nanchan Temple was built in 782CE during China’s Tang Dynasty


The Great Buddha Hall of Nanchan Temple is a prayer hall that has been preserved in the temple, is currently China’s oldest preserved timber building extant, as wooden buildings are often prone to fire and various destructions.

Hall of Buddha


The ornaments that curled towards each other at the main roof ridge are called Chi-wei (Owl’s tail) referring to a sea monster who was believed to be the son of The Dragon King, whose duty is to protect against fire.

Chi wei

Do you know?

We came to know the building date of the temple by an inscription on one of the beam

Due to its deserted location, it escaped destruction during the Buddhist purges of 845.

In the 1950s, the building was rediscovered by architectural historians.

In 1961, it was recognized as China’s oldest standing timber-frame building and a National preserved site in China


In 1966, the building was damaged in an earthquake

During the renovation period in the 1970s, historians got a chance to study the building piece by piece.

Restoration Work

There is a 8.4m lengthy and 6.3m wide Buddha’s altar in the main hall of the Nanchan Temple

Hall of Buddha’s roof is supported by12 pillars that are implanted directly into a brick foundation.



The Hall of the Buddha contains 17 statues that are lined up on an inverted U-shaped dais.

Tang's sculptures

The largest statue is of Sakyamuni (Buddha), placed in the center of the hall sitting cross-legged on a Sumeru throne adorned with sculpted images of a lion and demigod.

Statue of Buddha


Little brass bells hanged at each edge of the roof eaves.



The Great Buddha Hall also contains 1 small carved stone pagoda that is 5 levels high.

The 1st level is carved with a story about the Buddha, and each corner contains an additional small pagoda.

Each side of the 2nd level is carved with one large Buddha in the center, flanked with 4 smaller Buddhas on each side.

The upper 3 levels have three carved Buddhas on each side.



Few claims that the Temple was not constructed by Tang’s but re-constructed.


The temple faces south, and covers an area of 3078 square metres.

Way to Temple



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *