Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/247

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191
OMEI SHAN, THE SACRED

in bronze. Although dating from the ninth century, the wonderful creation remained unknown to the "outside barbarian" until Baber came this way a generation ago. He speaks of it as probably the "most ancient bronze casting of any great size in existence." It is a sad pity that no one has succeeded in getting a good picture of this notable work, but not merely is it railed about with a stone palisade, but the whole is enclosed in a small building of heavy brick and masonry with walls twelve feet thick, which secure it against wind and rain, but also keep out most of the light.

Wan-nien Ssu boasts another treasure more readily displayed, a so-called tooth of Buddha weighing about eighteen pounds. The simple pilgrims looked on reverently as the priests held it before me, but the latter had a knowing look when I expressed my wonder at the stature of the being who had teeth of such size. Probably they knew as well as I that it was an elephant's molar, but they were not above playing on the credulity of the ignorant folk.

Out of respect for the feelings of the monks I had brought up no fresh meat, and of course there is none to be obtained on the mountain, so I dined rather meagrely. Although the people generally do not hesitate to eat meat when they can get it, the priests hold stiffly to the Buddhist discipline which forbids the taking of life, and it is only unwillingly that they