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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Hate: The World's Strangest Monument

Fengdu Ghost City, Fengdu, China

What It Commemorates: This necropolis is modeled after the Chinese version of hell.
What Makes It Strange: During the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD), two court officials named Yin and Wang moved to Mount Mingshan to obtain enlightenment. Combined, the surnames of this mystical pair sound like “King of Hell” in Chinese, and ever since, locals deemed this a gathering place for spirits. The Ghost City that developed is a complex of Buddhist and Taoist temples adorned with macabre demon statues dismembering humans as they guard the entrance to the netherworld. Landmarks bear frightening names, such as “Last Glance at Home Tower,” “Nothing-to-Be-Done Bridge,” and “Ghost Torturing Pass.” Ironically, the area is literally a ghost city now because of the massive Three Gorges Dam project, completed in 2009, which flooded the town and forced the region’s residents to relocate. Mount Mingshan is now a peninsula that is visited mostly by tourists on Yangtze River cruises.

Like: A Brief Study Of Early Indian Sculptures

Together with rich history, culture and heritage, the Indian sub-continent is boastful of her oldest and finest sculptures. India owes her first sculptures to the Indus Valley Civilization (200 -2500 BC). The sculptures of this civilization mainly bases on stone, terra cotta and bronze. However, India’s earliest prehistoric sculptures are found in stone, clay, ivory, copper and gold. From the Indus Valley Civilization to the various rulers who ruled India, sculptures depict a history of their own.

A statue of the Buddha at Sanchi | Photo: Vinod Sreedhar
The Indian sculptures reflect contemporary social life, while the earliest sculptures depict the foreign influence, as time progressed and new civilizations awakened, different themes were depicted in the sculptures. The Hindu and the Jain religions found their way of expression through the sculptures in their temples the most. It has also been found that both these styles have often overlapped with each other. The height of Jain sculpture is evident in Jain sites like Palitana, Girnar and Mt. Abu. The colossal 60 feet high Jain monolithic statue of Bahubali situated at Shravanabelagola, Karnataka is also a fine example of the quality of Jain sculpture.

The Mauryan Empire is known to have made an extraordinary contribution to the sculptures of the country. In an attempt to spread the Buddhist religion throughout the country, the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka built some 85,000 stupas, all of them having Buddhist teachings inscribed in it, in the 3rd century BC. Two of the most prominent examples of this sculpture are The Great Sanchi Stupa, which is forty-four feet high with carved gateways that illustrate Buddhist legends, and The Ashokan Pillar situated at Sarnath in Madhya Pradesh.

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