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Big Buddhas: The Leshan Buddha

World's Largest Seated Stone Buddha

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For 12 centuries the giant buddha of Leshan has gazed benevolently over the Chinese countryside.
Leshan Buddha

The Leshan Buddha of China is 233 feet (about 71 meters) tall. It is the largest seated stone buddha in the wold.

China Photos/Getty Images

About the year 713 stone workers began to carve the image of Maitreya Buddha out of a cliff face in Sichuan, western China. The work was finished 90 years later, in 803.

The giant buddha sits at the confluence of three rivers -- the Dadu, Qingyi and Minjiang. According to legend, a monk named Hai Tong decided to erect a buddha to placate water spirits that were causing boat accidents. Hai Tong begged for 20 years to raise the money to carve the Buddha.

The great Buddha's shoulders are about 92 feet (28 meters) wide. His fingers are 11 feet (3 meters) long. The large ears are carved wood. A system of drains within the figure has helped preserve the Buddha from water erosion though the centuries. Even so, the figure is currently under renovation.

Maitreya Buddha is named in the Pali Canon as the Buddha to come in the future. Maitreya is the embodiment of all-encompassing love. He often is depicted seated, with his feet planted on the ground in readiness to rise from his seat and appear in the world.

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