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Longmen Grottoes


Source: internal company

Longmen Grottoes, located in Luoyang, Henan Province, is a treasure house of stone carving art with the largest number of statues in the world. It is rated as "the highest peak of Chinese stone carving art" by UNESCO. It is now a world cultural heritage, a national key cultural relic protection unit, and a national 5A-level tourist attraction.



Longmen was dug by Yu in the flood control, and the legend of Leaping Fish over the Dragon Gate also took place here. The grottoes were first chiseled in the reign of Emperor Xiaowen of the Northern Wei Dynasty, flourished in the Tang Dynasty, and finally ended in the late Qing Dynasty. It has been built for more than 1,400 years after more than 10 dynasties, making it the longest grottoes in the world. There are 2,345 niches and more than 110,000 statues in the existing caves.


Longmen, also known as Yique, where the east and west mountains face each other, and the Yihe River flows through it, looks like a natural gate from a distance, so it was called "Yique" in ancient times.  "There are palisades on both sides of the strait, facing each other like gates, and only the dragon can cross, so it is called Longmen."


According to legend, Emperor Yang of the Sui Dynasty once climbed Mangshan Mountain in the north of Luoyang. When he saw Yique in the south of Luoyang from a distance, he said to his attendants, "Isn't this where the emperor lived? Why didn't the ancients build their capital here?" A minister flatteringly replied,"It's not that the ancients didn't know it, but they were just waiting for you, Your Majesty." The emperor was delighted after hearing this, and built the eastern capital of the Sui Dynasty in Luoyang. Because the main gate of the palace is facing Yique, Yique has been called Longmen by people since then.


The Longmen Grottoes Scenic Area consists of four scenic spots: Xishan Grottoes, Dongshan Grottoes, Temple of fragrant hills and Bai Juyi's Memorial Park.


There are more than 1,300 grottoes, 2,345 Buddhist caves and niches, more than 50 pagodas, and more than 100,000 Buddha statues in the Longmen Grottoes, among which the largest Buddha is 17.14 meters high and the smallest is only 2 cm.


The most famous one is the niche of Buddha Losana which has nine Buddha statues. The main Buddha in the middle is Buddha Losana, which was carved by Wu Zetian according to her own appearance and demeanor. On the right side is the big disciple Kasyapa, on the left is the little disciple Ananda, and then the Samantabhadra Bodhisattva (left) and bodhisattva Manjusri (right). The heroic and vigorous king of heaven, the aggressive guardian and the main Buddha ------ Buddha Losana together constitute a group of artistic group images full of modality.


The main Buddha is Losana, namely sambhogakaya Buddha, which means the light shines everywhere. With a height of 17.14 meters, a head of 4 meters and ears of 1.9 meters, she is famous for her mysterious smile and has been praised as the "Oriental Mona Lisa" and "the most beautiful statue in the world" . The Buddha's face is plump and round, with wavy hairlines on the top of its head, eyebrows curved like crescent moons, and a pair of beautiful eyes staring down slightly, showing a peaceful smile, just like a wise and kind middle-aged woman, who is respected but not scary.


This cliff-like shrine carved according to the "Avatamsaka Sutra" is centered on the graceful and extraordinary Lushana Buddha, and uses a group of artistic group images full of modality to express the auspicious and peaceful ideal Buddhist world incisively and vividly. This group of statues embodies the powerful material and spiritual power of the Tang Empire, showing the highest achievement of Tang sculpture art.


Fragrant Hill, Longmen East Mountain, got this special name because Wu Zetian built Xiangshan Temple in Dongshan. Bai Juyi, a poet in the Tang Dynasty, lived in Luoyang for 18 years in his later years and donated a lot of money to rebuild Temple of fragrant hills. He wrote a book called "Repairing Temple of fragrant hills", which begins with the following sentence: "Luoyang City is surrounded by mountains and rivers, and there are many historical sites, among which the Longmen Grottoes is the best; there are ten temples in the Longmen Grottoes, all of which are tourist attractions, and Xiangshan Temple is the best." He was so attached to Longmen landscape that he was named "lay Buddhist of Fragrant Hill" and was buried in Xiangshan after his death. Bai Juyi's Memorial Park is the garden commemorating Bai Juyi.


Since its construction, the Longmen Grottoes have been severely damaged by man-made robbery and chiseling. Many Buddha statues are incomplete, but we can still see the power of the ancients thousands of years ago from the existing traces, and get a glimpse of their amazing wisdom, wonderful aesthetic taste, and exquisite craftsmanship.


(Resource: Baidu Encyclopedia)

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