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Grottoes Art in Luoyang

Grottoes Art in Luoyang

Luoyang is known as one of China’s three largest-scale grottoes, the other two known as Mogao Grottoes of Dunhuang and Yungang Grottoes of Datong. It was placed in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in November 2000.

Longmen Grottoes were initially excavated when Emperor Xiaowen of the Northern Wei Dynasty relocated the capital to Luoyang (493AD). Since then, the excavation lasted for over 400 years. Currently, there are over 2,300 grottoes and shrines in existence, housing over 100,000 Buddhist statues and stone inscriptions containing over 300,000 words. It has a high reputation domestically and abroad since grottoes and shrines house many large scale  statues  that house various subjects.

Characterized by nobility and artistic style from the central region of China, the art of carving statues reached an unprecedented level in the Northern Wei and Tang Dynasties, with differences exemplified in earlier and later excavated grottoes. Its reputation as “the forest of stone inscriptions” is known by the fact that it has the largest number of stone inscriptions in the world. The statues found in the grottoes have a wide array of subjects, including those favored by different schools of Buddhism and even Taoism. This phenomenon is rarely seen in other grottoes around the world.

Longmen Grottoes had a flourishing period in the Northern Wei Dynasty during the reign of Empress Wu Zetian of the Tang Dynasty. During these periods, the most famous and the largest-scale grottoes are Grottoes of Fengxian Temple excavated in the Song Dynasty.

The statues inside the grottoes are both elegant and lifelike, where you can still see the garments carved in them. The grottoes also house exquisite and lifelike relief sculptures, such as the flying goddesses and singing girls with various shapes. Among them, the sculpture describing the story of “an empress performing Buddhist ritual” is the most renowned.

Calligraphic artworks are often represented by twenty of the most exquisite stone inscriptions, attracting numberless calligraphy fans that visit in admiration.