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Longmen Caves

Located in Luoyang city in Henan Province, the Longmen Caves was first constructed in the Emperor Taihe's Reign of the Northern Wei Dynasty (488 AD). The construction lasted many years from the Wei Dynasty through the Northern Qi, Sui, Tang and Song Dynasties etc. 

 

 

The niches on the sides of the two mountains resemble a honeycomb. 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 constructed in the Northern Wei Dynasty and the Qianxi Monastery, Wanfuo Cave (Cave of Ten Thousand Buddhist Statues), the Fengxian Monastery and Kanjing Monastery etc. built in the Tang Dynasty. Longmen Caves, as one of China's four major Buddhist Caves, is important materials for study of history and arts in ancient China. It's an art-treasure house in the world as well. 

 


Scattered about the various caves are carved figures of Flying Apsaras, with some of them, light and graceful, riding clouds and mist dexterously, some dancing in the air, holding a plateful of fruits in the hand, some playing music and singing, and others casting flowers and fish about. Longmen is not only renowned for the caves, but also endowed with lush mountains and ridges, springs and waterfalls. The two mountains are covered with green pines and cypresses. Towers and pavilions set each other off. It's a unique scenery area. 
Guyang Cave: Three tiers of niches are carved on each of the two walls. The arched lintel and the back of the niche are painted with decorative designs and patterns, which are exquisite, rich and colorful. The sculptured statues of Donors with a solemn and pious expression, are vivid and lifelike. There is a dazzling array of carvings. The annotations on the statues in the cave were inscribed in simple and crude calligraphy. 


Lianhua (Lotus Flowers) Cave: Constructed in the late period of the Northern-Wei Dynasty, the Cave houses a standing statue of Sakyamuni, 5.1 meters high and with a damaged face and broken hands, which could be the "image of Sakyamuni begging for alms", with a statue of Kasyapa Buddha at his right side holding a Buddhist abbot's staff. In the Cave, there are numerous niches of various arches and decorated with fine carvings of peal and jade necklace, curtain, colorful strings, clouds, lotus flower, geometrical patterns etc. Sculptured upon the Cave ceiling is a large lotus flower surrounded by figures of Apsaras in relief, which are slim, graceful and vivid.


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