Longmen Grottoes ((Caves of 10,000 Buddhas)
China, Luoyang

Longmen Grottoes is a Buddhist cave temple complex located 12 km south of Luoyang. Niches and caves of all possible shapes and sizes, about a kilometer long, are carved in the limestone rocks of the mountains on both sides of the I. River. On the eastern shore there are a large number of small caves that served as the dwelling for the monks. At the beginning and at the end of the complex, the shores are connected by bridges. The beginning of the construction of grottoes on Longmen is considered to be the year 493, when Emperor Xiaowen of the Northern Dynasty Wei moved his capital to Luoyang from Datong. Since the construction of the first grotto, Guyan Caves, carvings on the Longmen continued intermittently for 700 years during the reign of ten different dynasties. Now there are 2,345 caves and niches, more than 100,000 images of Buddha and more than 60 pagodas. The highest statue reaches 17 meters, and the smallest sculpture of the saint is only 2 centimeters in height. Longmen Grottoes are considered the best among the three examples of this kind of art in China. In 2000, Longmen Grottoes were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The tradition of carving grottoes with Buddha statues in the rock came to China from India along with Buddhism. Sculptures in the grottoes and on the slopes, inscriptions and graphic elements testify to certain changes in the style associated with the time of their creation. The largest grottoes with famous sculptures and inscriptions: Guang Dong, which began work in 493, Binyang Dong - 505, Lianhua Dong - 520, Shiku-si - 520, Shisku - 520, Yaofang Dong - 570 year, Zaifu Dong - 636 year, Fahya Dong - 650 year. The inscriptions here are very different, for example, some express the reasons why a person decided to create a Buddhist statue here, others indicate good and pious deeds, and still others are simply notes about travels or expressions of human emotions. All these sayings are skillfully made in a variety of calligraphy styles: printed characters, official font, inclined and regular.
Despite numerous natural and socio-historical disasters, amazing grottoes survived - the stelae and inscriptions of the Longmen grottoes left subsequent generations not only important historical information, but also calligraphy samples - about 2,800 inscriptions, among which 140 recipes of ancient Chinese medicine. Some of them are used to this day.

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