A Three Dimensional Mandala in Pule Temple (Chengde, China) and an Emperor’s Tantric Buddhist Belief

Jingyu HUANG


Pule Temple, one of a series of temples under the patronage of the Qing court (1644–1911), is unique in holding a giant, three-dimensional mandala as the only object in the main hall, distinguishing this temple from all others in China. This mandala is identified as a cakrasamvaraTantric Buddhist mandala, a visualized deity system and aid for initiation rituals and meditation. This study introduces the mandala in Pule Temple. The analysis on the key characteristics of the mandala and it peripheral visual context illustrates that, on the one hand, the Qing court attempted to manipulate Tibetan Buddhism to pacify both the Mongolian and the Tibetan communities. On the other hand, it is also a proof of the religious beliefs of Emperor Qianlong, who kept his devotion to Tibetan Buddhism rather private. The indicative elements in Pule temple, including the location, layout, decoration, and the inscriptions on the stele, illustrate the fusion of Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism in the mind of the Manchu ruler.


mandala, Pule temple, chengde

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