During a restoration for a sculpture of Qianshou Guanyin (bodhisattva with a thousand hands) on Mount Baoding in Chongqing’s Dazu district on May 8, employees conducted an investigation and study on the "dark cell" of the sculpture and historical relics found there.
The secret compartment, located under the waist of Qianshou Guanyin, was found during an earlier exploration in 2008.
Employees conduct an investigation and study on the “dark cell” of the Qianshou Guanyin sculpture (bodhisattva with a thousand hands) on Mount Baoding in Chongqing’s Dazu district in Southwest China
For the purpose of restoration, on April 26 employees removed the sealing brick and opened the secret compartment, which is 310cm wide and 90cm high. To date, historical relics such as ceramic remnants, gold leaf fragments and stone remnants have been extracted.
A preliminary investigation found that the sealing brick inscription has accurately recorded renovation efforts of the sculpture dating back 200 years, with words "established in April, the 45th year of Emperor Qianlong's reign"
Meanwhile, on the gold leaf fragments removed from the hidden compartment, multi-layer gold leaf and plaster layers can be identified, which are closely related to restoration efforts from different dynasties. Ceramic remnants have a bearing on Buddhism and the productive activities of people from this era.
Currently, results from the endoscopic probe show there is many infilling within the "dark cell,” mainly gravel and dirt, as well as incomplete pieces of porcelain. Due to the hidden compartment’s narrow space, some parts there will be investigated during the next phase.