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The Most Beautiful Grottoes in China

Grottoes are part of Chinese civilization and represent China’s long-standing Buddhist culture. The famous grottoes in China are artistic landscapes featuring Chinese Buddhist culture and are the artistic treasures of ancient Chinese traditional culture. The four most famous grottoes in China refer to Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes, Yungang Grottoes, Longmen Grottoes and Maijishan Grottoes. The Most Beautiful Grottoes in China will lead you to explore the magical world of the grottes in China.

Mogao Grottoes

Known as the Thousand Buddha Cave, Mogao Grottoes  are located in Dunhuang City, on the west bank of the Daquangou Riverbed and on the cliff at the eastern foot of the Mingsha Mountain, which is one of the four largest cave art treasure houses in China.

Chinese grotto art was originated from India. Traditional Indian grotto statues are mainly stone carvings, while Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes are mainly made of clay sculpture murals due to the unsuitable rock quality. The entire cave is generally made of round sculptures, and then gradually faded into high plastics, shadow sculptures, and wall sculptures. Finally, with the murals as the background, the two arts of sculpture and painting are integrated. Mogao Grottoes had more than a thousand caves in Tang Dynasty, including 492 existing grottoes, 32 grottoes of Wei dynastia, 110 grottoes of Sui dynastia, 247 grottoes of Tang dynastia, 36 grottoes of five dynastias, 45 grottoes of Song dynastias, 8 grottoes of Yuan dynastias, and 45,000 square meters of murals. Mogao Grottes are listed as world cultural heritages by UNESCO.
Mogao Grottoes

Yungang Grottoes

Yungang Grottoes are located in Datong City, Shanxi Province,  and there are 252 niches and more than 51,000 statues, representing the outstanding Buddhist grotto art in China from the 5th to the 6th century. Among them, Tanyao Five Grottoes has a rigorous and unified layout which is a classic masterpiece of the first peak of Chinese Buddhist art

The grottoes were dug in the second year of Xing'an in the Northern Wei Dynasty (AD 453), and most of them were completed before moving to Luoyang, the capital of the Northern Wei Dynasty (AD 494). There are 45 main caves, 252 cave niches, and more than 51,000 stone statues. The largest stone statue is of 17 meters, and the smallest is only a few centimeters which inherit the essence of Qin and Han dynastias ' realist art and pioneer the romanticism of the Sui and Tang Dynasties, known as the treasure house of ancient Chinese carving art.
Yungang Grottoes

Longmen Grottoes

Located on both banks of the South Yishui River in Luoyang City, the Longmen Grottoes were first excavated in the Northern Wei Dynasty (494 AD) when the Wei dynasty moved its capital from Datong (where they created the famous Yungang Groto) to Luoyang. At that time, Chinese Buddhism was reaching its first peak, and the emperor was a pious believer. Carving continued after the Wei dynasty and the Tang Dynasty which witnessed the second peak of Buddhist belief. There are over 2100 niches, more than 100,000 statues, some 40 pagodas and 3600 tablets and steles in the caves of Guyang, Binyang and Lianhua. Along with the Mogao Caves and Yungang Grottoes, the Longmen Grottoes are one of the three most famous ancient sculptural sites in China. 

After 1,500 years, Longmen Grottoes is still magnificent. Its rich content reflects from different aspects the development and changes in ancient China's politics, economy, religion and culture. It has contributed tremendously to the creation and development of Chinese grotto art.

 Longmen Grottoes

Kizil Thousand-Buddha Caves

Kizil Thousand-Buddha Caves also called Kizil Caves or Heser Caves, Buddha caves of China. In 1961 it was listed as the first batch of national important cultural relic unit.6 km (37 miles) east of Baicheng County, the Kizil Thousand-Buddha Caves sit on the cliffs on the northern bank of the Muzat River. Carved from 3rd century to 9th century, the cave is the earliest Buddhist cave complex in China, even one century earlier than the famous Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang. Currently there are 236 coded caves in the Kizil, and the murals in the caves are reputed as "the most beautiful murals in Central Asia".

Murals and other forms of Buddhist art found in the Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves showcase a splendid culture that once prospered in Kucha, an ancient oasis kingdom in what was known as the Western Regions in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220).

Kizil Thousand-Budduha Caves

Dazu Rock Carvings

Dazu Rock Carvings were listed as a World Heritage Site in 1999. They provide outstanding evidence of the harmonious synthesis of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Dazu Rock Carvings is 160 kilometers to the west of Chongqing. Over 60,000 carved stone figures relating mainly to Buddhism are spread around 76 places. The content and craftsmanship are best at Beishan Hill and Baoding Hill. The art of Dazu, which emerged in the late Tang Dynasty (618- 907) and flourished in the Song Dynasty (960-1127), represents an important chapter in China cultural and religious history.

The Dazu rock carvings has made a significant contribution to artistic expression in China, taking into account a new realism and exaggeration in depicting the contrasts between good and evil, beauty and ugliness.
Dazu Rock Carvings

The Maiji Grottoes

The Maijishan Grottoes is one of China's four big grottoes which is a national key cultural relic’s protection unit and also the world famous art treasure. It is located about 35 km southeast of TianShui city, Gansu province. The Maijishan Grottoes was firstly founded in the late Qin Dynasty of the Sixteen Kingdoms (384 to 417 AD), and has been repaired and expanded frequently. It was basically completed in the Sui Dynasty at the end of the sixth century and has remained intact today. The shape of the mountain looks like the wheat-rick, so people call it the Maiji Mountain which means wheat-rick in Chinese.
The Maiji Grottoes


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