Dedicatory Inscription by Gao Yangui
Dedicatory Inscription by Gao Yangui
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Dedicatory Inscription by Gao Yangui

Empress Wu Zetian (624-705, r. 690-705) suffered bad health conditions during the later years of her reign. In the hope of praying for her good health, Master Degan, who was commissioned to oversee all Buddhist monks of the empire, led the construction of a Pavilion of Seven Jewels at the Guangzhai Temple in the capital city of Changan.  Courtiers were ordered to build stone shrines as adornments for the Pavilion.  Today, 32 of these shrines remain, and this stele belongs to one of them . 

The dedicatory inscriptions began by sighing for all sentient beings, as we are all lost in this world and uncertain of where to go for refuge.  Having learnt from the Buddhist Dharma, Gao Yangui understood that only by doing good deeds can humans transcend the endless cycles of life and death.  He therefore built a stone shrine of Amitabha Buddha sitting on a golden lotus with perfect disposition, shielded by an exuberant tree that offers Pure Land for those underneath.  

As these shrines were explicitly built and dedicated for Empress Wu Zetian and her good health, therefore the inscriptions did not make any further reference to whom the good deeds was dedicated to nor what were the vows.
Item No.
Unearthed in Xian, Shaanxi; currently stored at the Tokyo National Museum.

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