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Yungang Grottoes

Listed under Tombs & Memorials in Datong, China.

  • Photo of Yungang Grottoes
  • Photo of Yungang Grottoes
Photo of Yungang Grottoes
Photo by UNESCO
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The 51,000 incredible Buddhist statues carved into the sandstone of these caves and the exposed rocks of their cliffs during the 5th and 6th Centuries represent one of the greatest achievements in the first wave of classical Buddhist art. The statues (mostly of Buddha) vary in size from a whopping 17m to an equally impressive, but for the opposite reasons, 2cms tall, have been carved into 252 caves respecting a strict approach to style, layout and design, which still manages to reflect each individual cave designers vision and happily fuse the pared-back Buddhist style with the more flamboyant Chinese style of the time.

Some statues are carved further back into the caves and have kept their colours while some have limited shelter and are exposed to the elements so are suffering more wear. The caves at the western end are in the best shape.

Current estimates suggest it would have taken 40,000 people 50 years to decorate the kilometre of this rock face along which the caves run.

Written by  World Reviewer Staff.

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Yungang Grottoes

The Yungang Grottoes, in Datong city, Shanxi Province, with their 252 caves and 51,000 statues, represent the outstanding achievement of Buddhist cave art in China in the 5th and 6th centuries. The Five Caves created by Tan Yao, with their strict unity of layout and design, constitute a classical masterpiece of the first peak of Chinese Buddhist art.

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