Jinan, Shandong Province
The exquisite Ling Yan ("Magic Cliff") monastery is located in Changqing County, in a green valley about 45km (28 mi) SE of Jinan. Original foundations here date to the Tang dynasty, but the monastery reached the height of its glory during the Northern Song dynasty, when its renowned "40 Arhats" sculptures were installed in the Thousand-Buddha hall (later pages), and when the great Pizhi Pagoda (next page) was erected.
The monastery is rich in history. According to Li Daoyuan ("Annotations to River Canons," Northern Wei dynasty), its original name was Fangshan, "Square Peak," from the mountain formation shown in the photograph above. Another association is with the Zen cult of tea, that was introduced during the Tang dynasty to keep the meditating monks awake1.
1 Reference: The Number One Statues Throughtout China, Jinan Publishing House, ISBN 7-80572-515-2/J.20; an excellent book with reliable information and superb photographs that is available on the temple grounds.