Maba Man and Zhaoyin Temple

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on August 22, 2016.)

The interior of Maba Cave contains statues of a supposed Maba-era community.
In 1958, local farmers in the area of Maba--near Shaoguan in northern Guangdong--entered one of the many karst caves around, this one located directly underneath the local landmark shaped like a lion's head and thus called "Lion Rock."

There, they dug sediment from the cave's floor to use as fertilizer. At a depth of about one meter, they made an amazing find--a large fragment of a skull! Conscientiously, they notified the local authorities, who determined that the skull was from a 40-year-old man who had lived some 126,000 years in the past, at the same time as Neanderthal in Europe.

Called "Maba Man," his classification is uncertain. He may be an early Homo sapiens, or he may be a transitional form between Homo sapiens and the earlier Homo erectus.

More recently, a strange feature of the skull has been noted. It appears the man sustained a severe head injury in his earlier years, perhaps from violence or accident. But experts speculate that the recovery of the skull's owner indicates solid social connections: he was cared for.

Today a beautiful park surrounds the cave and Lion's Rock, with a "Maba Man" museum and another dedicated to the Tang Dynasty poet and government minister Zhang Jiuling, who was born in the area.

Also here was the main purpose of my visit: beautiful Zhaoyin Temple is located high in an open-faced cave. It is rumored that between his ordination and his "seating" at Nanhua Temple, Huineng, the Sixth Chan Patriarch, had studied and meditated here. The other features, and the quiet beauty of the place, make it well-worth the effort to get there.

Maba Cave is located under a local feature known as "Lion's Rock."
A statue of several aspects of Maba Man stands outside Maba Cave.

No comments:

Post a Comment