According to the Pew Research Center, there are approximately 245 million Buddhists in China. That makes up about 18 percent of the total population. Another 21 percent incorporate Buddhist beliefs into their personal lives.
Despite the religion being present in China for two thousand years it was not sparred during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960’s. Millions of relics, monuments, and temples were destroyed in an effort to make the country an atheist state; refuting anything religious and superstitious.
Fortunately, not everything was demolished. Renovation work in a reservoir in Jiangxi Province, revealed a 600-year-old statute hidden in the water.
When the Hongmen Reservoir also known as the Zuixian Lake dropped by 10 metres of water, it exposed the ancient Buddha.
The statue stands tall at 3.8 meters.
Archeologist believe the statue could date back to the 14th century.
Xu Changqing, director of the Research Institute of Archaeology told CNN “A preliminary study of the statue suggests it was probably built during early Ming Dynasty, maybe even earlier as the Yuan Dynasty.”
Divers are surveying the rest of the area to find more hidden archeological treasures.
The water saved the structure from being destroyed when Mao Zedong ordered to remove any Chinese traditional significance from 1966 to 1976.
A temple at the base of the water was also uncovered.
“If the statue wasn’t preserved in the water, it could have suffered weathering, oxidation or other risks, we reckon,” Xu explained.
The statue and the temple went underwater when the reservoir was built in 1960.
Huang Keping, an 82-year-old local remembers seeing the Buddha as early as 1952, although it looked a little bit different back then. “I remember the statue was gilded at that time,” he said.