Illumination at Fahai Temple
2012-04-19 11:11:32 m.cri.cn Web Editor: Duanxuelian
A fresco detail in Fahai Temple. Photo taken for CRI by William Wang, April, 2012.
By William Wang
Out in the western stretches of Beijing, Fahai temple nestles itself into the foot of Cuiwei Mountain. This Ming Dynasty temple is a comfortable and well-preserved complex which has just one feature to set it apart from the rest: its frescoes.
And Fahai's frescoes are stunning. The Beijing Administration of Cultural Protection took its job of protecting them seriously. Over 200 square metres of frescoes are now closed up in the Mahavira Hall, cloaked in solid blackness to ward off light and pollutants.
Luckily, the 100 yuan entrance fee provides viewers with a guide (who only speaks Chinese) and the use of a powerful LED flashlight, which can be carefully swept over the 500 year old frescoes. There's a mystical feeling of experiencing history this way, an almost eerie feeling of being somewhere you're not quite supposed to be.
Necessarily viewing the room with your own personal spotlight also has the effect of limiting one's focus to a small area, enabling viewers to delve into the expressions of the Boddhisattvas' faces and intricate patterns of their clothes, replete with gold appliqué detailing.1 2 3 4