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Yungang Grottoes

the carving buddha on Yungang GrottoesThe Yungang Grottoes located in Datong city, Shanxi Province, with their 252 caves and 51,000 statues, represent the outstanding achievement of Buddhist cave art in China. The Five Caves created by Tan Yao, with their strict unity of layout and design, constitute a classical masterpiece of the first peak of Chinese Buddhist art.

Yungang Grottoes were built against the mountain and it extend about 1 km (0.62 miles) from east to west. The 53 grottoes in Yungang Grottos include about 1,000 niches with about 51,000 statues, a treasure-trove of cave art that combine traditional Chinese art forms with foreign influence, particularly Greek and Indian. Sculptures here are noted for their vigorous features and rich variety that range from the smallest, only 2 centimeters high, to the tallest, a Buddha 17-meters high. The tallest Buddha is surrounded by many small Buddhas in Grotto No. 5, also called the Big Buddha's Cave.

Yungang Grottoes

Yungang Grottoes have been damaged by both war and natural disasters over the past 1,500 years since their completion. After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the Chinese government attached great importance to preserve the grottoes. They set up a special Yungang Grottoes protection institution in 1995. In 1965, the Datong municipal government issued and implemented the Programs for the Protection Scope and Safety of Yungang Grottoes. From 1973 to 1976, under the instruction of Premier Zhou Enlai, China injected a huge sum of money into the grottoes, rescuing many grottoes and caves that had been on the verge of collapse.

The Yungang Grottoes are divided into three zones: east, west and central and numbered from east to west. Grottos No.1 and No. 2 are located in the east zone. Statues and sculptures inside these caves have been severely damaged by exposure to the elements, but still preserved in the east zone are relief sculptures of Buddhist stories on the lower part of the eastern wall of Grotto No. 1. Inside the entrance of the Yungang Temple is an impressive four-storeyed wooden facade with glazed top outside the Grottos Nos. 3, 4 and 5.

Most of Yungang Grottoes are in the western zone, and each has its own character. Grotto No. 20, one of the five earliest caves of monk Tan Yao, houses the sitting statute of Sakyamuni, 13.7 meters high, with a full and round face with a majestic smile, slim lips and a high nose, ears that extend almost to the shoulders, radiant eyes and broad shoulders. Sakyamuni statue is representative of Buddha sculptures in Yungang Grottoes.Yungang Grottoes with blue sky

Yungang Grottoes Tour

In 2001, the Yungang Grottoes were made a UNESCO World Heritage Site The Yungang Grottoes is considered by UNESCO a "masterpiece of early Chinese Buddhist cave art and represent the successful fusion of Buddhist religious symbolic art from south and central Asia with Chinese cultural traditions, starting in the 5th century CE under Imperial auspices".


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