Comments on Longmen Grottoes by the World Heritage Committee
The grottoes and niches of Longmen contain the largest and most impressive collection of Chinese art of the late Northern Wei and Tang dynasties (493-907). These works, entirely devoted to the Buddhist religion, represent the high peak of Chinese stone carving.
The Longmen Grottoes are 13 kilometers south of Luoyang City, Henan Province. Construction began during the reign of the Northern Wei Emperor Xiaowen (471-499) and lasted for over 400 years. They are one of the three major treasure houses of ancient stone-carving art in China, the other two being the Dunhuang Grottoes of Gansu Province and the Yungang Grottoes of Datong, Shanxi Province.
The Longmen Grottoes are densely distributed on the crags of the mountains on the east and west banks of the Yishui River, running one kilometer from south to north. There are over 100,000 statues of Buddha, of which the largest is as high as 17.14 meters and the smallest only two centimeters, and 2,300-odd niches and 2,680 examples of inscriptions and stele carvings.
It is a large-scale museum of the stone-carving art, whose representative works are the Bin-yang Middle Cave, the Fengxian Temple, the Ten-Thousand-Buddha Cave and the Guyang Grotto.
The Binyang Middle Cave is the masterpiece of the stone-carving art of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534). Its construction lasted for 24 years, the longest period for a work of this kind. There are 11 statues of Buddha. The main statue of Sakyamuni features a high nose and large eyes. There are also flying Apsaras carved on the ceiling of the grotto, revealing distinctive traces of the art of the West Regions.
The Fengxian Temple is the largest of those built during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), being over 30 meters in both length and width.
The Vairocana Buddha in the center is the largest in any of the Longmen Grottoes. It has a total height of 17.14 meters, each ear alone measuring 1.9 meters. The body is plump and the clothes are depicted with especially vivid lines.
The Ten-Thousand-Buddha Cave, with a length of some 500 meters, houses over 15,000 statues of Buddha in various styles and sizes. Some statues are only several centimeters high, but still have a lively expression.
The Guyang Grotto was first excavated during the Northern Wei Dynasty. It is the earliest and has the richest contents. Here we find numerous small and exquisite niches and stele inscriptions. The 19 of the 20 world-famous calligraphic works from the Northern Wei Dynasty in Longmen are kept here.
Tourist Information Transport
Luoyang Airport, 10 kilometers northwest of the downtown, has opened several domestic flight routes to Guangzhou, Chengdu and Dalian. The Nos. 207 and 310 National Highways also pass through Luoyang. The public bus Nos. 53, 60 and 81 in the city all go to the scenic area.
All-in-one admisstion for the Longmen Grottoes, White Garden (Bai Juyi’s Tomb) and Xiangshan Temple: 80 yuan
Opening hours: 07:00-18:00