The Bamboo Temple is located on Yu’an Mountain in the northwestern suburbs and is 12 kilometers from Kunming. It was built in the 7th century and rebuilt in Qing Dynasty. In addition to its long history, the Bamboo Temple is more famous for its 500 clay statues (Arhat).
Why called Bamboo Temple, the legend like that: during the Dali Kingdom, the two noblemen went out for hunting rhinoceros. However, when they chased along the way to Yu’an Mountain, all the animals disappeared. They saw a group of monks holding sticks of bamboo at that place. When they rushed to ask, the monks vanished in a cloud and only their bamboo sticks were left behind them. The two men wanted to pull the sticks up to see what happened, but they failed. The next day, they went again, and the sticks had taken root in the ground, and the place was entirely covered with a luxury bamboo forest. They thought it was a revelation from the Buddha and here is a shrine for worship. So, they built a temple here and named it Bamboo Temple.
Many Chinese temples have five hundred Arhats, and only the Bamboo Temple can be called “the pearl in the treasure house of oriental sculptures.” The 500 colorfully painted statues of Buddhist Arhats, which were modeled in 7 years from 1883 to 1890 by a Sichuan master sculptor and his disciples, are different images, natural and lifelike.