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Yungang Grottoes


Buddha Statue of Yungang Grottoes in Datong

The flourish of Buddhism directly brought the large-scale statue creation themed with Buddha and Buddhistic culture. It was originally used for religious belief and spread, but later, it gradually became one part of Chinese Culture, and the masterpiece of worldwide sculpture.


Yungang Grottoes, one of the largest grottoes in China, are equally famous to Mogao Grottoes, Longmen Grottoes and Maijishan Grottoes. They altogether are called Four Grotto Gems of China.

Located at the foot of Wuzhou Mountain  16 km west of Datong city, the grottoes are carved backing on mountains with the total length of 1 km. Currently, there are 45 major grotto sites and more than 51,000 statues, which represent the outstanding grotto art of Chinese Buddhism culture in the 5th or 6th century. The whole layout and design are elaborative. It usually is considered as the classical works of Buddhism art at its peak time. Yungang grottoes are also one of the world-famous stone-carved grottoes.

In 1961, it was ranked as the cultural relic site under the national protection. And in 2001, it was written into the List of World Cultural Heritage. The year 2007 saw Datong Yungang Grottoes approved to be the Five-A scenic area. And currently it has been the hot scenic and cultual spot for China tours.


Ten Highlights of Yungang Grottoes




Yungang is famous for being famous. As the world heritage site in China, every year, millions of visitors, home and abroad, will visit it.



Yungang Grottoes can be traced back more than 1500 years. Initially established in 460 BC, it was opened by a Buddhism master named Tan Yao with the help of the emperor at that time. The whole grottoes are divided into east, middle and west part. These grottoes resemble beehives lie to the mountainside of Yungan Mountain.

yungang grottoes

The east grottoes are mainly emphasized with the pagodas, so it is also called Pagoda Cave. Each grotto of middle grottoes has back-room and front-room. The major Buddha statues are located in the middle. On the wall and roof of cave, a lot of basso-relievos are filled. The west part was constructed later, and most of the grottoes are small and have many small niches. Most of the masterpieces of west part were created after the capital of Northern Wei Dynasty which was moved to Luoyang in 493. This is a museum of Chinese Buddhism culture and history change.

Yuangang Grottoes are distinguished by their variety such as the Elephant Grotto, Buddhism Temple Grotto, Yungang Landscape Grotto, Tower Temple Grotto, Zen Grotto and their sophisticated structure.


yungang grottoes



Shape of Mountain


The Wuzhou Mountain extends several hundred miles from east to west, fifty miles from north to south. South of this mountain, numerous cliffs erect, sheltering the Yungang Grottoes and constitutes a spectacular scene.



These Grotesque Caves are home to Splendid Culture


Buddhism Statues


One-kilometer length of the statue complex is comprised of the statues of different sizes, styles and gestures. Some dancing and singing, some striking the drums and bells, and others playing the flutes and handling the Pipa (traditional music instrument), their facial expressions are vivid and vary also. The statue-carving techniques are also diversified. Some statues adopt the techniques of tradition, and others are strongly featured by the exotic styles. Based on Chinese traditional carving arts, the design masters absorbed the essence of Indian and Persia artistic styles.


 Buddha Statue Carved with Traditional Techniques

 Buddha Statues over 1500 years old

 Buddha Statue

 His facial expression is very subtle


 Music instrument


 Yungang Grottoes’ music instrument and dance performance carving mirror the multi-culture blending in ancient China. According to survey, there are 22 caves with music instrument carving, 500 pieces in total, with 27 kinds of instrument and more than 60 bands.


yungang grottoes




The couplets on the entry of doors are part of the essence of Chinese traditional culture, often themed with religious content or praise natural beauty and imbued with profound philosophy meaning between the lines, aiming to enlighten people to get rid of the constraint of desires, to cultivate their mind and soul so as to go to the land of eternity happiness in their afterlife.




 The wooden architectures constructed prior to the grottoes are called “Ten Temple”.


the ancient "Ten Temple"

Xuan Kong Temple (Suspended Temple)


Yungang Grottoes is a living museum showcasing the past dynasties. According to history record, the Xianbe ethnic group who lived a nomadic lifestyle established the Northern Wei Dynasty in 386, and moving its capital to Datong city two years later, and they convert to the Buddhism gradually under culture assimilation. The visit to it will be a rewarding and enlightening one.

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The past 1500 years has witnessed countless scholars, poets, governors conquered by its majestic scale and aesthetic beauty beyond description, they composed many poems and essays, which in return enriched its cultural content greatly. 

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Yungang Grottoes, a “book“ written on stones, abundant itself with Buddhism Buddha paintings, heavenly devas painting, Buddhism story paintings scattered among its numerous statues. Though outshone by the statues, their delicacy and interesting content bring much charm to Yungang Grottoes.


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Just as Gibran says, humanity is a river, runs from ex-eternity to eternity. Yungang Grottoes is a nation’s epic written by stones. The Chinese ancestors poured their wisdom and talents into the stone, bestowed them with the most exquisite shape, the most beautiful color,the most vivid postures and subtle expression. These stone statues record 1500 years of history, embodying those creators’dreams, aspirations and the life philosophy, enduring the erosion of wind and natural disasters. Now, they stand there, stately and silently, sinking into deep thought, transcending the threshold of the past millennium and reach the core of eternity.


Yungang Grottoes Shelter the most dazzling Buddhism Statues

"the Meseum of Stone Scupltures and the Art Gallery"




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