Longmen Grottoes (Caves): There are as many as 100,000 statues within the 2,345 caves.

The grottoes and niches of Longmen contain the largest and most impressive collection of Chinese art of the late Northern Wei and Tang Dynasties (316-907). These works, entirely devoted to the Buddhist religion, represent the high point of Chinese stone carving.

Longmen Grottoes (Longmen Caves)cocoanext

The Longmen or Longmen Caves are some of the finest examples of Chinese Buddhist art. Housing tens of thousands of statues of Shakyamuni Buddha and his disciples, they are located 12 kilometers south of present-day Luoyang in Henan province, China. The Yi River The alternative name of “Dragon’s Gate Grottoes” derives from the resemblance of the two hills that check the flow of the Yi River to the typical “Chinese gate towers” that once marked the entrance to Luoyang from the south. There are as many as 100,000 statues within the 2,345 caves, ranging from 1 inch (25 mm) to 57 feet (17 m) in height. The area also contains nearly 2,500 stelae and inscriptions.

In 2000 the site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List as “an outstanding manifestation of human artistic creativity,” for its perfection of an art form, and for its encapsulation of the cultural sophistication of Tang China.

Longmen Grottoes (Longmen Caves)cocoanextLongmen Grottoes (Longmen Caves)cocoanextLongmen Grottoes (Longmen Caves)cocoanextLongmen Grottoes (Longmen Caves)cocoanext

Massive Buddhist sculptures in the main grotto

Longmen Grottoes (Longmen Caves)Ishai Bar

The Big Vairocana of Longmen Buddha Grottoes

Longmen Grottoes (Longmen Caves)Gary Todd

Close-up details of Vairocana’s face

Longmen Grottoes (Longmen Caves)