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Longmen Grottoes

Longmen Grottoes (Picture 1)

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Located in Luoyang City, Henan Province, the Longmen Grottoes is the world's largest stone carving art treasure house. The Longmen Grottoes began in the Northern Wei Dynasty, flourished in the Tang Dynasty, and finally ended in the late Qing Dynasty. After more than 10 dynasties, including the Northern Wei, Eastern Wei, Western Wei, Northern Qi, Sui, Tang, Five Dynasties, Song, Ming, Qing, etc., it has been built for more than 1,400 years. It is the longest time to build grottoes in the world. The Longmen Grottoes Scenic Area is composed of four scenic spots: Xishan Grottoes, Dongshan Grottoes, Xiangshan Temple and Baiyuan. It has been rated as "the highest peak of Chinese stone carving art" by the UNESCO, ranking first among all major grottoes in China. It is now a world cultural heritage, a national key cultural relic protection unit, and a national AAAAA-level tourist attraction.

The dragon gate was excavated by the great Yu, and the legend of the fish leaping over the dragon gate also occurred here. The grottoes were first carved in the reign of Emperor Xiaowen of the Northern Wei Dynasty, flourished in the Tang Dynasty, and finally in the late Qing Dynasty. After more than 10 dynasties, it has been built for more than 1,400 years, making it the longest grotto in the world. A lot of colorful paintings were used in the construction, and most of them have faded today. Densely spread on the cliffs of the east and west mountains of Yishui, it is 1 kilometer long from north to south. There are 2,345 existing cave statues and more than 110,000 statues. Together with Mogao Grottoes and Yungang Grottoes, they are called China's three largest grottoes, and later added to Mount Maiji. The grottoes are called the four grottoes. The statues of Longmen Grottoes were mostly built by royal nobles and are the only royal grottoes in the world. After the news that Wu Zetian carved the Lucena Buddha according to his appearance and manners and the construction of a paradise in the Ziwei City of Luoyang Palace was introduced to Japan, Emperor Shengwu made a vow "I also built it" to build Todai Temple in Nara. In addition, Emperor Xiaowen chiseled the Guyang Cave for Empress Feng, the statue of Lanling King Yu Wanfodong, Li Tai built Binyang South Cave for the Queen of Longsun, Wei Guifei chiseled Jingshan Temple, and Gao Lishi built the Immortal Buddha for Emperor Xuanzong of Tang Dynasty.

The Longmen Grottoes have shown a trend of Sinicization of grotto art, which is a "milestone" of Chinese grotto art. After experiencing the construction of Tianzhu, Silla, Tocharo, Kangguo and other countries, European patterns and ancient Greek stone pillars were discovered, which can be called the highest international level in the world. The Longmen Grottoes have more than 2,860 inscriptions and are known as the Forest of Ancient Steles. Representative works: "Twenty Grades of Longmen", Longmen Shuangbi (Chu Suiliang "Yi Que Buddha Niche Stele", Song Zhenzong "Longmen Inscription Stele") are masterpieces of Chinese calligraphy. The Longmen Grottoes retain a large number of physical materials in religion, art, architecture, calligraphy, music, clothing, medicine, etc., reflecting the development and changes in many fields such as ancient Chinese politics, economy, religion, and culture from different aspects. The innovation and development of art has made a significant contribution.

Among all the caves in Longmen, the Northern Wei Dynasty caves accounted for about 30%, the Tang Dynasty accounted for 60%, and other dynasties accounted for only about 10%. Northern Wei Dynasty, representative caves include Guyang Cave, Binyang Middle Cave, and Lotus Cave. During the Sui, Tang and Five Dynasties, the representative caves include the Dalu Shena statue niche, Jingshan Temple, Ten Thousand Buddhas Cave, Huijian Cave, etc., which are the heyday of Longmen Grottoes. In the Song Dynasty, there were Chen Tuan's "Zhujuan Tablets" and Song Zhenzong's "Longmen Inscription Tablets". The Song Dynasty also dug some new niches in the Longmen Grottoes, and added 9 wooden eaves-style buildings to protect the statue of Lucena, commonly known as the "nine rooms". In the Ming Dynasty, on the surface of the lintel outside the Huijian Cave, five square and semicircular stele-shaped inscriptions were carved with shadow lines. The eras were all in March 31st, Wanli, Ming Dynasty. It was an inscription for donating money to build a road. In the Qing Dynasty, Emperor Qianlong visited Longmen in 1750 and left the Imperial Stele Pavilion at Xiangshan Temple in Longmen.

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