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Statue of Mani in Cao’an Temple

????The Statue of Mani in Cao’an Temple is the only existing stone statue of the founder of Manichaeism in the world. Manichaeism was founded in Persia in the 3rd century AD. It was introduced to inland China around the 6th and 7th centuries AD and to Quanzhou in the 9th century AD. In 1339 (the 5th year of the Zhiyuan period of the Yuan Dynasty), the Statue of Mani was carved out of cliff rock within the temple. The statue, 154cm tall and 80cm wide, was carved in conformity with shades of rock colors. It is a precious historical witness of the integration of the Manicheism and the Chinese tradition of worship, which had a great and profound influence on the history of the world and China, with the stone carving art of ancient Quanzhou. Cao’an Temple is located in the mountainous area in the west bank of Quanzhou Bay. Built between 1131 and 1162 (during the Shaoxing period of the Southern Song Dynasty), the temple got its name “Thatched Hut (Cao’an)” because it was built with thatch. In 1339, it was rebuilt with stones. Outside the statue niche are two rocks revealing the history of the thatched hut and the time of carving the statue. It is the valuable evidence to testify to the spread and development of Manichaeism in China and to exhibit an important social nature of multicultural fusion in the ancient port of Zayton during the 10th-14th centuries. It is this statue that was once adopted as the logo of the First International Manichaeism Symposium held in Lund University in Sweden in 1987. The World Manichaeism Institute also uses the statue as its emblem. In February 1991, a delegation of “Integral Study of the Silk Roads of Dialgue”(1988-1997) of UNESCO visited the Cao’an Temple and considered this visit the biggest achievement of their mission.

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