Chanting in Daci Temple, Chengdu


This was recorded in 2010 at Daci temple in Chengdu, China, using an Olympus ls-10.

One of the best features of Chinese temples is the sound of chanting. It both draws you into the spiritual atmosphere and reminds you that Buddhism is still alive in some way in China. Telling, however, is the demographic of the participants – apart from the monks it’s almost entirely elderly women.

I used to visit Daci temple every week to drink tea with an old friend in a little courtyard inside the temple. Right in the centre Chengdu’s main shopping district, the temple was on a busy main road. If I arrived at my regular time – roughly 10:30 in the morning – I would walk off the main road and be greeted by the sounds of people coming together to reach for something greater than the flesh. I would perhaps stop for a minute to listen to the chanting, then let the sounds carry me along as I walked deeper into the temple, where I would find my friend waiting with a cup of tea.

The hall in which they sung was maybe only 40 metres wide, but had a huge, cavernous roof with plenty of space for the sound to resonate. You can hear some of that resonance in this recording, despite the average recording quality. As well as the chanting you can hear someone hitting a wooden block to keep time, which is normal in Buddhist temples in my experience.

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