Thousand-year-old Buddhist sutra collections of Yunju Temple showcase for the first time at exhibition at HKBU

Monday, 1 April 2024

Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU), the Good Fortune and Wisdom International Charity Fund and the Chinese Western Culture Arts Association are co-organising “The Miracle of Chinese Culture: Historical and Cultural Exhibition of Yunju Temple in Fangshan, Beijing” from 2 to 14 April. It showcases 43 precious treasures from “Yunju Temple”, the world’s largest museum of Buddhist sutras. The “Three Wonders of Yunju Temple”: stone sutras, paper sutras, and wooden sutras, with a history of over a thousand years, will be showcased in Hong Kong for the first time. Some original stone sutra rubbings will also make their global debut.

The exhibition will take place at the Koo Ming Kown Exhibition Gallery, Lee Shau Kee Communication and Visual Arts Building at HKBU. At the opening ceremony today (1 April), Professor Alex Wai, President and Vice-Chancellor of HKBU, was joined by the officiating guests Mr Lam Wai-pong, Chairman of the Good Fortune and Wisdom International Charity Fund; and Mr Ken Chow, Founding Vice Chairman of the Chinese Western Culture Arts Association.

At the opening ceremony, Professor Alex Wai said: “As one of the higher education institutions in Asia with a long history, HKBU has been dedicated to promoting Chinese culture and its heritage. Through research and education, the University helps the world to better understand China’s rich culture and history. HKBU has proactively responded to the country’s National 14th Five-Year Plan, emphasising cultural heritage and development. The University has spared no effort in promoting Hong Kong as the East-meets-West Centre for International Cultural Exchange.”

Mr Lam Wai-bong said, “I believe everyone shares my immense sense of pride, knowing we were able to bring the miracle of Chinese culture to the HKSAR and showcase it at HKBU. Most importantly, through this exhibition, we hope to spread the spirit of ‘determination, perseverance, meticulousness, and selfless dedication’ of the stone sutras in Fangshan through education and exposure to the public, thereby ensuring the continued heritage of the thousand-year-old Chinese culture.”

Mr Ken Chow said: “Our Association is committed to promoting the development of Chinese and Western culture and art. We are honoured to exhibit the precious cultural heritage in Hong Kong for the first time, bringing the cultural treasures housed in the museum to life. The treasures encourage exchanges and drive the diversified development of world civilisation. The exhibition will foster the world’s understanding of Fangshan in Beijing, enable global sharing of the stone sutras culture in Fangshan, and let people from around the world experience its ancient charm, and understand the spirit of humanities.”

Stereoscopic display of the historical and cultural values of Yunju Temple

Yunju Temple, located in Fangshan District, Beijing, was built by the eminent monk Master Jingwan during the Sui Dynasty. Master Jingwan observed that many paper and wood-carved Buddhist scriptures were destroyed during the anti-Buddhist movement in the Northern Wei and Northern Zhou dynasties, while stone-carved scriptures were preserved. He therefore carved Buddhist sutras on stone steles in order to preserve them and spread Buddhism. These sutra-carving activities continued until the Ming Dynasty, spanning six dynasties over a period of more than a thousand years. A total of 14,278 stone sutras were carved, along with a collection of over 22,000 volumes of paper sutras and 77,000 pieces of wooden sutras, making Yunju Temple the world’s largest and oldest stone carving library and the “Dunhuang of Beijing”.

The exhibition presents the thousand-year history of sutra engraving at Yunju Temple under four themes: “History of Yunju Temple”, “The Great Stone Sutra Inscription”, “The National Treasures in Yunju Temple” and “Miraculous Place and its Prominent People”. These themes delve into the establishment of Yunju Temple, the history of sutra carving, the collection of precious treasures, as well as the study and conservation of cultural heritage. Each theme is presented through multiple formats, including exhibition panels, exhibits, pictures and texts, photography, and interactive experiences, with the aim to promote Chinese culture and enhance the public’s understanding of the erudite stone sutra culture and the inheritance of the nation’s intangible cultural heritage.

The precious treasures on display at HKBU comprise 43 stone sutras, paper sutras, and wooden sutras of the Sui, Tang, Liao, Jin, Yuan, Ming, Qing, and modern periods. Among the exhibits are 17 original stone sutra rubbings (paper rubbings produced from stone sutras). Framed paper rubbings of stone sutras will also be showcased. There will be an interactive area for visitors to engage in wooden sutra rubbing to experience the craftmanship of traditional Chinese printing. Wearing virtual reality (VR) glasses, visitors can also enjoy a close-up navigation of the Chinese civilisation treasure, the Leiyin Cave, where stone sutras carving in Fangshan originated.

Students from the Department of Chinese Language and Literature at HKBU will form a team of docents, providing guided tours in Cantonese or Putonghua for visitors. Organisations or groups interested in visiting the exhibition can register in advance for priority entry and guided tour arrangements.

“The Miracle of Chinese Culture: Historical and Cultural Exhibition of Yunju Temple in Fangshan, Beijing” will be held at the Koo Ming Kown Exhibition Gallery from 2 to 14 April. The opening hours are 10:00 am to 6:00 pm from Monday to Friday, and 10:00 am to 8:00 pm on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays. For details, please visit the website,, Facebook page and Instagram (account: stonesutraexpo).