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  • December 2009 (40)
  • Longmen Grottoes- Buddhist Testament

    Mon, Dec 7, 2009

    China

    The Longmen Caves or the Dragon Gates as Chinese people call it, is inscribed in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site from 2000.According to the inscription the Longmen Grottoes are an illustration of “…the perfection of a long-established art form which was to play a highly significant role in the cultural evolution of this region of Asia.”

    The Longmen Caves are 13km south of Luoyang. Take bus 81 from the east side of the Luoyang train station or at the stop just west of the Xuangong Hotel. Alternatively, bus 60 goes to the caves from a stop outside the New

    The Longmen Grottoes depict Buddhist subjects and more then 100,000 images and statues of Buddha and his disciples. Caves are located in the two mountains Xiangshams to the east and Longmnesham to the west. In between these two mountains flows the river Yi flowing towards north and this area is thus known as Yique ie the Gate of the Yi river.

    Longmen Caves

    Famous as Buddhist temple or sacred Cave along with Mogao Caves and Yungang Grottoes all these three caves are ancient sculptural sites in China. There are around 2345 caves, depicting the chinese art. Caves depicting the culture and heritage of china have over 2100 niches, more than 100,000 statues, some 40 pagodas and 3600 tablets and steles in the caves of Guyang, Binyang and Lianhua.

    Sculpturing began in 473 by Wei Dynasty and continued in earnest for four centuries. The three sets of caves – Guyang, Bingyang and Lianhua are the creations of wei dynasty.During Tang dynasty construction continued to its second peek and in this era they made the famous construction of a cave shrine, known as Fengxian Si.

    However during the period of Cultural Revolution in China the sculptures, carvings and monuments were damaged with defacement and wreckage them. Also the archaeologist and antiquarians send there sculptures to museums and art dealers and also for private collection. The Sabotage was immense but it has been minimized and it has been renovated and well labeled in English for the visitors.

    The Longmen Caves are 13km south of luoyang.

    There is train to Luoyang and from there take bus 81 or bus 60 till the caves.The Longmen area is open to the public, and although the grottoes cannot be entered most of the artwork can be seen from the exterior. Standard tickets are 120 RMB. Half price tickets (60 RMB) are available to Chinese students only. Foreign students may not use student cards to receive a discount.

    Must See:
    • The Three Binyang Caves carved by Wei has 11 statues of buddha with northern characteristics i.e. long features, thin face and fishtail robes, with some influence of Greek work. Though carvings during The Tang dynasty is more natural and voluptuous in style.
    • Cave of ten thousand Buddhas as it is famously known as Wanfo or Wan Fo Dong having 15,000 buddhas carved in tiny niches but all being different from each other.
    • Lianhua I.e. Lotus Flower Cave for lotus is beautifully and splendidly carved and decorated over the rooftop.
    • Fengxian or Feng Xian Si also known as Ancestor Worshipping Cave, carved between 672 and 675 for Empress Wu Zetian. The most exquisite and scintillating cave and admired for its culmination of Tang carving. It is the most splendid of all the caves with the monumental shrine having a square plan measuring about 30m (100 feet) on each side. In the center of it is a majestic seated figure of Vairocana Buddha, 17m (56ft) high with 2m-long ears. On his left, a statue of a Bodhisattva wearing a crown with pearls which gives effect of a divine general treads an evil spirit underfoot.

    fengxian cave

    • Medical Prescription Cave: this cave gives the examples of Chinese medicine history and its proof for the advancement of its science. It has inscriptions dating from 575; detail hundreds of cures for everything like common cold and psychological problem like madness. It’s still used by Chinese medical practitioner.
    • Guyang, the oldest cave at Longmen, which still has some old charisma with the traces of the paint that originally gave enigma to charismatic carvings. In this cave we can see a central Buddha and three tiers of niches on the north and south sides of the walls, which displays hundreds of statues. The statues have with the names of the artiste, with the dates on which it has been carved and the explanations for carving them. Which also thus becomes relic of ancient calligraphy is nineteen of them are “Twenty Pieces” which are of utmost important for Chinese history.
    • Tomb of Bai Juyi. A bridge leading to east bank for best view of caves.

    The dragon gate or The longmen caves is the testimonial to the cultural and religion of china of there faith in it. The carvings are tribute to Lord Buddha and his preaching’s.

    Visitors will be fascinated and amazed when seeing the carvings and its incredible art of that era. Enormous and mighty sculptures will stun you. One of the most outstanding place to visit in china and compulsive for every Buddhist. These caves reach to the pinnacle of old art carvings and sculpturing.




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