A mud statue of an ancient monk, originally believed to be that of a Tibetan god, was discovered by Chinese scholars in Xianrenya Grotto in Tianshui, northwest China's Gansu Province.
The monk, called Sizhoudashi in Chinese, was once widely worshipped as a god among Chinese civilians from the late Tang Dynasty (618-907) to the beginning of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
The long-time belief that the statue, set in a Lama pavilion, was a Tibetan god, was set right when scholars unveiled the tight silk covering.
Sizhoudashi was a monk from central Asia who traveled to China during the Tang Dynasty and displayed his divine nature so that Chinese civilians began worshipping him, according to historical records.
"Statues of Sizhoudashi are rarely found in north China, and this is the second large-sized mud statue of him ever found in China," said Wen Yucheng, a local grotto expert.
The statue belonged to the late Song Dynasty (960-1279), judging from its style and the facial features, Wen said.
(Xinhua News Agency November 11, 2002)