Longmen Grottoes A Great Treasure house of Ancient Sculptural Art
The longmen Grottoes are located 12 km south of modern Luoyang. They are between Mount Xiang (East Hill) and Mount Longmen (West hill) and face Yi River. Overlooking the Yi River from the east and west are high hills that resemble que (a pair of column-like structures serving as the entrance of some Chinese buildings), from which it acquired its original name of Yi Que. From north to south, the distance covered by grottoes is about 1 km. the whole complex of grottoes boasts 1352 cave, more than 100,000 statues, 40 pagodas and 3600 tables with Buddhist inscriptions. The peaceful Yi River meanders its way through the south of the town here, cutting across steep cliffs on both sides. Above, thousands of Buddhist statues stand, peering out of the cliff side. Lots of historical materials concerning art, music, religion, calligraphy, medicine, costume and architecture are kept in Longmen Grottoes.
Carving began in the 5th century when the Wei dynasty moved its capital from Datong (where they created the famous Yungang Grottoes) to Luoyang. At the time, Chinese Buddhism was reaching its first peak, and the emperor was a pious believer. Caving continued after the Wei dynasty and the Tang dynasty witnessed Construction of more than half of the works seen today in the grotto date back to this period. No other rock grottoes in China received such attention and patronage from the emperor and nobility as those at Longmen, which man justly boast of being imperial caves and whose privileged position in history is unparalleled by any other repository of rock grotto art in China. The Longmen Grottoes has long been recognized as a cultural, historical, artistic and religious site. As such, it is listed under United Nations’ World Heritage. Sadly, many selfish collectors will gladly pay huge sums for robbers to deface many of the Buddha statues, leaving a decapitated body behind.
Longmen Grottoes, Yungang Caves and Magao Grottos are regarded as the three most famous treasure houses of stones inscriptions in China. The grottoes and niches of Longmen contain the largest and most impressive collection of Chinese art of the late northern Wei and Tang Dynasties (316-907). These works, entirely devoted to the Buddhist religion, represent the high point of Chinese stone caving. The sculptures of the Longmen Grottoes illustrate the perfection of a long-established art from which was to play a highly significant role in the culture evolution of this region of Asia. The high cultural level and sophisticated society of Tang Dynasty china is encapsulated in the exceptional stone carvings of the Longmen Grottoes.