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China Top Buddhist Grottoes


The Stone grottoes art originated from India, was introduced into China in the 3th century. In North China, there were two Buddha statues construction hurricanes swept over China during the 5th and the 7th century when most grottoes emerged vibrantly at that time.


Stone Grottoes embody Buddhism mainly through three art forms: sculptures, murals and architecture. Mogao Grottoes built in 5th century along the Silk Road is most famous for murals, Yungang Grottoes for the largest number of stone Buddha statues, Maijishan for the largest number of clay sculptures, etc. However, the 8th century saw stone sculpture’s declination trend as a whole, except Dazu Rock Carvings which rose abruptly like a black horse, pushing the stone statue art further for 400 years. From then on, China stone statues staggered and no stone grottoes bigger than it emerged. Thus it marks the last masterpiece of stone carvings in China.


China stone grottoes evolve with time, each period has its own features. For instance, Yungang Grottoes represent the early stage of stone statues art during the 4th and the 5th century when India Gandhara and Gupta exerted strong influence on Buddha statues, thus they adopt exotic shapes. Longmen Grottoes embrace the middle stage of stone statue art during 6th and 9th century, highlighting the cultural blending of Indian and Chinese culture. Dazu Rock Carvings, (from the 9th to the13th century, Late Tang and Southern Song dynasties in China), speak for the late phrase of stone statue art. Approaching these ancient grottoes, you are not just confront with the marvelous sculptures, the splendid murals and the mysterious architecture, bust also a history, an epic and an encyclopedia of a nation written on the stone, composed by the most genius mind with fervent passion for art and religion. These Buddhism sites are caved under the guide of the most profound vision and with the most outstanding skills, transcending the boundary of time and space, becoming a universal language which reach to the core of our soul and shock us, both in visual and in mind.

 

 

 The big statues of Buddha in Longmen Grottoes

Mogao Grottoes(Thousand Buddha Caves), located in Gansu Province, is an important transfer stop along the Silk Road. The year 366AD witnessed its first construction. Being the largest, the most well-known grottoes of Buddhism art in China they extend a length of 1.6 kilometers. By now, its 735 carves house 45000 square meters’ eye-dazzling murals and 2415 fascinating clay statues. It is listed as the World Cultural Heritage Sites by the UNESCO and a new branch of international subject is devoted to study it....

Longmen Grottoes, located in Henan province, was built in year 494AD. It interprets sculpture art’s various principles by its own unique language. Suppose Michelangelo behold Lengmen Grottoes, he will be driven crazy by their majesty and delicacy also.  Longmen Grottoes absorb the India Grotto elements and take in Han culture of China , thus acquires the Han aesthetic features and embraces the trend of secularization and Han cultural assimilation, thus becomes a landmark for China Buddhism Grottoes Art...

  

Yungang Grottoes are located in Shangxi province. Currently, its 45 major grottoes shelter 51,000 statues, the largest number of stone statues in China. With elaborative layout, they represent the peak of grotto art of Chinese Buddhism culture in the 5th or 6th century. Together with Mogao Grottoes, Longmen Grottoes and Maijishan Grottoes, they constitute Four Grotto Gems of China....

Maiji Hill Grotto,(also called Maijishan Grottoes) located in Gansu Province. Nestling among the picturequs forest, they are carved 40-80m off the ground and own the largest quantity of clay sculptures spanning over 1600 years which cannot be found elsewhere and famed as “the Oriental Clay Sculpture Museum”. Assimilated by Han culture and the trend of secularization are this site's two features....

  the stone carving of Dazu Rock Carving

Yulin Grotto, located in Jiuquan city of Gansu Province, was first caved during the Northern Wei dynasty(386-557). Famed as the sister of Mogao Grottoes, Yulin Grotto is most famous for its eye-dazzling murals. The 41 caves house 5650 square meters of frescoes, 272 statues, 10826 Buddha, Bodhisattvas and gods’ pictures which remain intact. In 1961, it was listed as national key cultural protection site in China....

The Dazu Rock Carvings,located in Chongqin,was first built in 649AD. This site differentiate itself by combining Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism together to create stone statues, which is a very innovative and rare phenomenon. It represents the acre of late stage stone sculpture art in China and ranks as a World Cultural Heritage Site. Its 100,000 statues many scatter among 5 main sites....

  

 Bingling Grotto Temple ,35 kilometers southwest of Yongjing County,Gansu Province. Its grottoes complex spanning over 1600 years, and 183 grottoes survived till today contain 694 well-preserved stone Buddha statues, 82 clay sculptures, and 900 square meters of frescoes or murals, and some are the oldest caves in China...

 Xiangtangshan Grottoes, located in Hebei province, is 1400 years old. By now, 16 grottoes, 5000 Buddha statues and 450 niches remain intact. Its statues featuring Northern Qi styles is of irreplaceable aesthetic value, marks the stone sculpture’s transition from Yungang Grottoes to Longmen Grottoes...

  

 Kizil Thousand-Buddha Grottoes, first built along the Silk in Xinjiang during the 3th century, its coded 236 caves shelters 5000 statues and over 10,000 square meters of splendid murals featuring outstanding quality and overwhelming quantity. With the earliest murals 300 years earlier than that of Mogao Grottoes, it wins the reputation as the key to study Mogao Murals...

 Gongxian Grottoes, situated in Henan Province. First built during Northern Wei dynasty. By now, its 5 grottoes contain 3 giant Buddha statues, 1000 Buddhism niches, 238 statue niches, 7700 Buddha statues and 186 inscriptions which remain intact. Its fifteen “King and Queen Worship the Buddha” Relief Sculptures are the only ones remain intact in China...

  
Xumishan Grottoes in Ningxia was first built during Northern Wei dynasty 1400 years ago,ranks among top 10 grottoes in China, is a magnificent yet little-known Buddhism site. It been enlisted on top 100 endangered architectural and cultural sites in the world.Among its numerous grottoes,70 grottoes housing statues and murals of high artistic value. Among them, the 20.6-meter-high Buddha statue is the shining star...

Leshan Giant Buddha is the tallest stone Buddha statue in the world, and is the hot destination in southwest China. It was carved out of a cliff face by an 8th-century monk in southern Szechuan province, near the city of Leshan. The Giant Buddha lies at the convergence of the Minjiang, Dadu and Qingyi rivers. It faces the sacred Mount Emei with which it shares its World Heritage status...

 
 
 

Map of China Top Buddhist Grottoes

 (click to enlarge)
 
map china top buddhist grottoes
 
 
   Author: Sophia
Last edited on Jan 27,2014


 

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