17 December 2020: China’s famous stone Buddha, the 233ft Leshan Giant, sits at the junction of three great rivers, carved out of a cliff-face of Cretaceous-era red sandstone.
But residents in two 1990s tower-blocks in the city of Chongqing got a surprise this week when a 30ft, headless statue of The Enlightened One was discovered right outside their windows, under a pile of rubbish and leaves.
The concrete high-rises were built 30-years-ago on a cliff in the Nanan district of the sprawling metropolis that is nearly the size of Austria.
The foundations belonged to the Leizu temple, which was begun around 1910, in the last few years of China’s Qing dynasty, before falling victim to the arrival of Communism in 1949. It was bull-dozed in 1987.
The stone structure, which is also carved out of a cliff, is suffering from decay and an unstable foundation.
But cultural experts remain baffled as to where the head is and speculated that it may have been destroyed during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 70s, where many religious sites and artifacts were destroyed in a ‘purge’ known as ‘The Four Olds’.