The Sleeping Buddha statue is over 15 feet long, weighs at least 50 tons and is about 700 years old. Many of China’s Dynasties, from the Tang through the Ming, have added to the temple complex making it one of the oldest surviving historical sites in China. Buddhism itself is generally thought to have migrated to China around the first century of the Common Era, or approximately the year 2700 by the Chinese calendar.
We visited the temple in 1995. China was still at the very beginning of its current economic superstardom. Much of Beijing was poor, dirty and neglected, yet choked with traffic and activity. The Hall of the Sleeping Buddha was a remarkable example of preservation and opulence and the surrounding gardens were a tranquil sanctuary against the background of a frenzied culture on the verge of new world prominence.
Our memory of the temple’s solitude is part of what inspired us to start carrying a collection of silk coverlets and cotton quilts aptly named “Sleeping Buddha.” These are hand sewn, block printed and vibrantly colored; best of all they are supremely soft, warm and luxurious. There are two collections, theTEN THOUSAND BUDDHA cotton voile coverlets in raspberry, marigold or saffron colors and the truly lush ENDLESS KNOT dupioni silk coverlets in turquoise, Chinatown orange or gold.
All six are available in the store or on line. They are made in India and designed by New York artist Martha Bone who was inspired by here own travels through Asia. Pair them with our dupioni silk pillows from Vietnam and you’ll have a sumptuous pan Asian silk experience. These are truly bedroom couture with fine hand crafted workmanship. And while stylish these coverlets are also warm, with 100% cotton fills.
Martha uses stunning vibrant colors to invoke a feeling of lush tropics and far way places. With their softness and warmth the whole collection whisks you away and places you in the lotus gardens outside China’s Sleeping Buddha temple.
The Sleeping Buddha in Beijing has no shoes. The huge statue lies on its side with bare feet. Over the centuries dignitaries and religious pilgrims have left shoes of all sizes for the Buddha’s awakening. Some are cloth, some are wood and some are stone.
Now available from reorient and inspired by the same temple are vintage miniature stone shoes. Each is individually hand carved from varieties of soft river stone. Coloration varies from a light tan to a pale celadon green. Each is elegant in its simplicity and natural stone luster. They are meant to endure indefinitely and were originally carved almost 30 years ago.
As is the case with many objects in Chinese culture, shoes have a double meaning in the lexicon of art. A pair of shoes symbolizes the concept of “togetherness,” most often in the capacity of husband and wife. This is due to both a visual and linguistic pun. The two shoes together is a visual cue for things that obviously belong together and should not be broken apart; further the phrases for “together in harmony” and “children’s shoes” have very similar pronunciations in the Cantonese dialect. If you add a mirror to the assortment the double meaning makes a Chinese saying: “may husband and wife grow old together.”
By further extension, the concepts of “together” and “harmony” are synonyms in both Chinese and English. Buddhism is all about achieving a level of harmony in the universe such that you end suffering and enter a realm of tranquility. How appropriate then to leave shoes for a sleeping Buddha.We have Sleeping Buddha quilts and stone shoes in stock in the store and ready to ship. Come in and see for yourself how vibrant, fun and soft these hand made quilts really are. We might be at the end of a hot summer but winter with its cold dark nights is coming. Liven up your bed set now to keep it feeling luxuriously warm. Matching pillows and shams are also available, just ask at the store.