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Dazu Grottoes

Dazu Grottoes

Brief Introduction of Dazu Grottoes

Dazu Grottoes, located in Dazu County, is 163 kilometers from Chongqing. It represents a beautiful gem in the grotto arts of China during Tang and Song dynasties.

There are over 50,000 figure statues and 100, 000 Chinese characters of inscriptions and epigraphs scattered over 76 cliff carvings which are under national relics protection. The most famous ones are Baoding Mountain and Beishan Mountain. The sculptures and carvings are mainly about Buddhism, but Confucian and Taoist carvings are also included. Dazu Grottoes is equally famous with the Yungang Grotto, the Longmen Grotto and the Duhuang Grotto for their variety in subject matter, richness in content, and their co-existence of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.

Features of Dazu Grottoes

The sculptures and carvings on Baoding Mountain are different from Beishan Mountain in style. The carvings here tell one or several Buddhist stories with groups of sculptures. It is not only full of rich contents, but also with livelihood features.

Baoding Mountain Grottoes was built during 1179 and 1249. The founder of the carvings, a local Buddhist by the name of Zhao Zhifeng (b. 1159) devoted his life to the carvings. The construction of the carvings went a long way of 70 years. There are about 10,000 sculptures carved on the face of cliff which is 500 meters long. There is a saying says "Go up to mount Omei, and go down to Baoding Mountain". Thus, Baoding Mountain has become one of the Buddhism sacred places in China.

Masterpieces of Dazu Grottoes

There are many exquisite and beautiful statues at Dazu Grottoes, such as Sleeping Buddha on Baoding Mountain, Thousand-hand Bodhisattva, Three Sages of Huayan, Nine Dragons Bath Sakyamuni and so on.

Sleeping Buddha on Baoding Mountain

The Sleeping Buddha on Baoding Mountain is the biggest sculpture of Dazu Grottoes with a length of 31 meters. According to Buddhist Scripture, it should be officailly called The Nirvana of Shakya. Nirvana is the highest level of Buddhism which means that the Buddhist practice is fulfilled and a man can be freed from the suffering sea of life and death, and also other desires and anxiety.

The Thousand-hand Bodhisattva

The Thousand-hand Bodhisattva, a sculpture covering 88 square meters of the face of a cliff has 1,007 hands and there is one eye in each hand. This symbolizes boundless wisdom and gives the message that nothing in the world can escape her notice. There is nothing else in the world like it in scale and in artistic beauty.

Three Sages of Huayan

The statue of Three Sages of Huayan Sect is 7 meters high. The Buddha, holding up a thousand jin (1kg=2jin) stone pagoda with his hands, has gone through many years but still stands there intact, showing the masterly application of the mechanics in architecture. The Huayan Sutra (Avatamsaka Sutra in Sanskrit), centers on the three sages, Shakyamuni, Manjusri, and Samantha Bhadra.

Art Value of Dazu Grottoes

Dazu Grottoes has made many breakthroughs from its predecessors in terms of choice of subject matters, artistic form, modelling technique, and aesthetic taste after taking in and absorbing the best of their predecessors with their vivid display of nationality and life, these carvings have become a typical example of grotto art with Chinese style. And it also elaborates the religious principles of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism in an interesting way.

Generally speaking, Dazu Grottoes deserves to be a great artistic masterpiece in the world. It is the important part of Chinese spelaology and it is also regarded as a good example to promote the advance of the grotto art from chiseling to Cliffside carving. (More Details about the Art Value of Dazu Grottoes)