In June 2002, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region received the donation of an original calligraphy featuring the "Prajna Paramita Hrdaya Sutra" (Heart Sutra) from Professor Jao Tsung-I, an internationally renowned master with outstanding achievements in both academic research and art, who wished to have the calligraphy transformed into an outdoor large-scale carving. The masterpiece is reproduced in the form of a large-scale outdoor wood inscription on a natural slope at the foot of Lantau Peak near Ngong Ping of Lantau Island. The tranquillity of the natural environment of the site would enable visitors to appreciate the masterpiece which combines art and philosophy.
The project was completed in May 2005.
While on a visit to China in 1980, Professor Jao Tsung-I saw the Buddhist stone carvings of the Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra on Mount Taishan in Shandong. This inspired Professor Jao to create a monumental calligraphic work of the Heart Sutra. The Heart Sutra is a treasured text revered by Confucians, Buddhists and Taoists alike. It is written in a simple and concise manner, yet its message is truly profound.
Professor Jao completed this calligraphy of Heart Sutra in 2002, and dedicated it to the people of Hong Kong in June the same year. The work is now presented in the form of a large-scale wood inscription display in an outdoor environment. The calligraphy has been carved on to wooden columns reminiscent of bamboo tiles (zhujian) used for writing in ancient times.
In order to reflect the profound wisdom of the Heart Sutra and to impose the two-dimensional calligraphy into a three-dimensional architecture naturally, the thirty-eight timber columns with inscription of the Heart Sutra have been arranged to correspond to the topography of the landscape, and in a figure-of-eight configuration (i.e. the symbol of infinty "∞") symbolising infinity. The column located at the highest point of the hill is left blank to suggest the concept of "emptiness" (Sunyata), a key theme in the Heart Sutra.