The Buddha of Light

This figure of the "Buddha of Light" is found in the Cao an Temple near the city of Jinjiang in Fujian Province, China, not far from the South China Sea. The image dates to approximately 1445 CE or earlier. There is conclusive reason to believe that this figure is actually the Mesopotamian revival preacher Mani, founder of Manicheism, with all the transformations that ensue upon hundreds of years veneration, the long trajectory down the Silk Route and into China, and the need to veil the figure's true identity from hostile neighbors. See Samuel N.C. Lieu, Manichaeism in the later Roman Empire and medieval China (1985), for details of this fascinating history.

This photograph was taken in 1988 by my indefatigable colleagues, Drs. G.N. and E.R. Knauer, and I am grateful to them for allowing me to present it on the WWW. Click on the image for a still larger version.