Museum Built to Protect Mini Buddhism Temple

Xinhua News Agency, August 24, 2007

Xinjiang, China -- A museum has been built to protect a mini Buddhism temple, claimed to be the smallest in the world, from the harsh desert elements in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Located in Qira County, southern Xinjiang's Hotan Prefecture, the Damiku Temple covering just four square meters was built during the Northern and Southern Dynasties 1,500 years ago.

The temple is made of wood and mud and has fine frescos of Buddhism scriptures on the four walls. A Buddha statue, about 65 centimeters tall, stands in the center of the temple. In the middle of the northern end stand other wide-shouldered and thin-waisted Buddha statues.

It was discovered near a wadi seven years ago and is recognized as the best-preserved ancient temple in the Taklimakan Desert.

Wu Xinhua, head of the Xinjiang archaeology team with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the museum would help preserve the historic site and "exhibit Buddhism culture in Hotan Prefecture and the history of Xinjiang's minorities and religions".

Costing two million yuan (US$263,800) and occupying 380 square meters, the museum would also benefit the tourism industry in Xinjiang, Wu said.