The World’s Tallest Kwan Yam, Tung Tsz Monastery
Or, to paraphrase The Hollies – She Ain’t Heavy, She’s My Buddha.
Yes indeedy, the north Tai Po treeline has recently acquired a new addition in the form of a rather large Kwan Yam statue. If you are wondering who I am talking about you may know her better as Guan Yin/Quan Yin or even Avalokitasvara, the Buddhist Goddess of compassion.
Not to be outdone by the world-famous seated Buddha at Po Lin Monastery on Lantau, the Tung Tsz Monastery off Ting Kok Road has decided it needs a centrepiece of equal distinction, and its white-bodied-form has been slowly emerging over the past couple of years. What started off as a rather strange-looking metal framework (a sort of Whicker Man without Edward Woodward and the flames) has turned into a rather impressive piece of huge sculpture.
I’m not necessarily impressed with the whole ‘sticking out like a sore thumb’ whiteness of it all (after all, something this white will only invoke a certain amount of envy amongst the local sun-avoiding ladyfolk), but rather that there are still people around who can put this sort of stuff together. Are they highly skilled artisans or just bog-standard builders building up a huge prefabricated jigsaw? I have no idea actually – I’m assuming it is being sculpted from concrete or stucco, but until I get a closer look can only guess.
I first heard of this thing a couple of years back from a friend who lives near to Shuen Wan (this is the Chinese name for the more familiar “Plover Cove”). The rumour is that a certain Mekon-headed Asian billionaire is the benefactor behind the construction of the monastery and statue and he intends to eventually move all of the family graves there. I also heard that the original intention was to position the statue so that it faced towards its Po Lin counterpart but it seems this would have made it face SE away from the road and towards the surrounding hills.
This whole side of Tai Po looks set to become extremely busy over the next few years what with Cheung Kong (mekon again) destroying some local butterfly habitat with a new apartment complex down the road in Fung Yuen, hotel plans are being mooted for Tai Mei Tuk (hence why the powers-that-be have given the greenlight to a man-made beach at Lung Mei – despite a whitewashed environmental impact assessment report and the fact that raw sewage empties into the quayside, trust me, I know because I have dived there…bleurgh!) and now this huge monastery complex that looks set to be as big as any of the large temple complexes that can be found elsewhere.
If you are wondering what this image of Kwan Yam is depicted doing, I am guessing that the vase she is holding is her renowned vase containing the “Dew of Compassion”. Legends tell us that she would appear at the bedsides of the sick and sprinkle a few drops on their heads to miraculously cure them, I guess the point here is that you can stand under the tipped vase to benefit from her symbolic magic healing powers – who knows – either that or she’s holding a golf ball and an unfinished golf club and is about hit a drive into Tolo Harbour.
Anyway, I look forward to visiting it with some closeup shots when it finally opens.
(Incidentally, if anyone would like to read more about Chinese gods in general then I can recommend Jonathan Chamberlains “Chinese Gods” available from Blacksmith Books)