Dazu Rock Carving

Dazu Rock Carving
Dazu Rock CarvingThe masterpiece of Chinese exquisite grotto art, Dazu rock carving is a shinning star in the speleological art treasure. It enjoys high and equal reputation with Dunhuang frescos and forms the trilogy with Yungang and Longmen Grottoes.

Having epitomized the art of grotto carvings in China, Dazu rock carvings has not only elevated grotto art of a certain time but also become as everlasting art monument in the rock carving field of China.

The Dazu rock carving is mainly composed of North mountain cliff carvings and Baoding mountain cliff carvings, which all belonged to the late Tang and early Song Dynasty period, in theme of Buddhism.

Famous for its magnificent scale, excellent carving skill, wide coverage of subjects, rich contents and complete preservation, Dazu rock carving contains the essence of  carving art of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism; with its rich carving images and large amount of historical records, it presented Chinese rock carving art development and religious belief changes in between the end of 9th century and the mid-13th century, which also plays an important role in the creation and development of Chinese rock carving art, with irreplaceable scientific, historical and artistic value.

All the sculptures are exposed outside, presenting a very vivid and expressive view, which broke through the traditional religious abundance, thus personified the carving figures. Not only human images living in different levels but also living scenes are showed in the carving work, supplemented by lot of literary records. It's indeed a history painting.

Located in the north mountain, 1.5 km away from Dazu county of Chongqing, North mountain cliff carvings is totally 300 meters long, and was firstly carved in late Tang Dynasty. It went through various ancient dynasties till South Song Dynasty that the whole carving work was finished, with a time span of 250 years. It's an excellent representative of late period grotto art, with Buddha statues as many as 4, 600, covering wide subjects of 51 kinds. Those subjects are what are popular in the secular world at that time, and the production of the Buddhism's secularization, different from the early grotto carvings.

14 km away from Dazu County, stone caring on Mount Baoding were created from 1179 to 1249 or, in the reigns of Emperor Chunxi to Emperor Chunyou in the South Song Dynasty. The person in charge was Zhao Zhifeng, who was born in Xueliang Township of Dazu County, several km away from mount Baoding. He became a monk when he was five, and moved to the western part of Sichuan Province to learn Buddhism when he was 16.Then he returned home and had the Buddhism "Daochang" built under his care.(Buddhism "Daochang" refers to the place where the Buddhist doctrine is publicized with images.

He dedicated his following 70 years to this course until he passed away at eh age of 90, when the forest of statues was completed at a preliminary level. The Buddha Bay we are seeing now is the major part of the stone carvings on mount Baoding. This Buddhism "Daochang" also includes 12 other places and extends 2.5 Km. the total number of the statues is over 10,000 and some of them are titanic and imposing with various dimensions. Since the planning was unified and the craftsmanship was consummate, there are few similarities between the statues. Moreover, the statues are each in connection with each other and are each in accordance with the Buddhism doctrine. Almost the entire creed of this religion is included in one generation and thus a Buddhism Daochang with a comprehensive, rigid creed and special features was formed. This is the only Buddhism Daochang that houses huge stone carving in China.

Carvings of the Hell, Statues of loving kindness of parents, Nirvana of Sakyamuni, Avalokitesvara with thousand arms, three saints of Avatamsake School, carved image of six ways of Samara and law-upholding Buddha statue are all essence of the carving. Besides, Nanshan mountain carvings, Shimenshan mountain carvings and Shizhuanshan mountain carvings are also essential parts of Dazu rock carving.

On December 1st, 1999, Dazu rock carving was inscribed on the world Heritage list by the UNESCO. Chiefly statues of the "Buddhist world", Dazu rock carvings are unique in that Taoist and Confucianism statuary figures are also included.