The Yungang Grottoes are the most outstanding works of the first prosperous period of Chinese Buddhist grotto art carved in a relatively short period of time (460-525 years); they are the product of the organic combination of South Asia, Central Asia and Chinese culture ; A grotto dug by the royal family reflects the political background of the time. At the same time, the carvings of Yungang Grottoes also have distinct Chinese and local characteristics, which have a profound impact on the development of Buddhist cave art in later China.
Jinyungang Grottoes is located at the southern foot of Wuzhou Mountain, 16 kilometers west of Datong City. The grotto was dug in the mountains and stretched for about one kilometer from east to west. It was excavated in three periods. There are 45 main caves, 252 caves, and more than 51,000 statues.
The Yungang Grottoes were excavated during the Northern Wei Dynasty Emperor Wencheng s peace (AD 460 ~ 465). At that time, Emperor Wencheng vigorously restored Buddhism. The first major event was to approve the request of a senior monk. In Yun, a suburb outside the capital Pingcheng (now Datong, Shanxi), at the time The royal cave was dug for more than 60 years, and has a history of more than 1,500 years. However, the excavation of the other Xiaoyan continued until the Emperor Xiaoming Zhengguang years. During the early Tang Dynasty, excavations were made again, but most of them were small and medium-sized caves. In later generations, individual statues were carved and repaired many times, and 10 Buddhist temples were built in Liao Dynasty. The subject matter of carvings in the grottoes is basically Buddha statues and Buddhist stories.
The sculptures of Jinyungang Grottoes are famous for their magnificent statues and colorful contents among the three grottoes in China. Its carving art inherits and develops the Qin and Han carving art traditions, absorbs and fuses the essence of Buddhist art, and has a unique artistic style . It had a profound impact on the later development of Sui and Tang arts and occupied an important position in the art history of our country. It is also a historical witness of the friendly exchanges and cultural exchanges between China and Asian countries.
The smallest Buddha statue in Jinyungang Grottoes is 2 cm and the largest is 17 meters high. Most of them are religious figures with different expressions. The shape of the Buddha image is dignified, which is a traditional expression of the Central Plains culture; however, its face image is mostly forehead, nose high, eyes wide and lips thin, which has certain characteristics of Buddhist culture in the foreign region.
The giant Buddha statue is tall and majestic, showing the world s unique and incomparable style. The other stone statues are as low as one by one, and all obey the big Buddha statue. Coupled with Feitian and Gnomes to serve the Buddha. Feitian holds musical instruments and dances in the sky, expressing the joy of serving in the shade of the Buddha.
The dwarf dwarf has a short stature and a strong torso. It is carved on the base, base, beam, pillar top, etc., and he lifts heavy weights vigorously. His expression is still very happy, indicating that it is a joy to serve the Buddha in heavy service. The Big Buddha symbolizes the emperor, the other statues at all levels are big and small, and the flying gnomes are slaves and the people in various services.
Jinyungang Grottoes represent the art of Buddhist grottoes in China from the 5th to the 6th centuries. Its rich content is also a precious material for studying sculpture, painting, architecture and religion at that time.
Early Grottoes, namely Wuwu Grottoes, are magnificent and have a strong and simple western region atmosphere. Five Caves is the earliest excavation in Yungang Grottoes. In 460 AD, according to Xun s suggestion, a total of five caves were excavated at that time, and five statues of Shakya were carved, symbolizing the five emperors such as Taizu, Taizong, Shizu, Gaozong and Gaozong of the Northern Wei Dynasty. Buddha religious theme. These five grottoes are now named Caves 16, 17, 18, 19, and 20, also known as the Five Caves.
In the middle period, the Grottoes are famous for their exquisite carving and gorgeous decoration, showing the complex and changeable art style of the Northern Wei Dynasty. After the death of Emperor Wen Cheng, Emperor Xian Wen and Emperor Xiao Wen continued to burrow statues at the southern foot of Wuzhou Mountain from 465 to 494 AD, forming the second and most prosperous period of Yungang Grottoes. The caves excavated during this period are divided into five groups, namely the current seventh and eighth double caves, the ninth and tenth double caves , the first and second double caves, the fifth and sixth double caves, and the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteen caves.
Although the size of the cave chambers in the later period is small, the figures are beautiful and beautiful, and the proportion is moderate, which is an example of the art of caves in northern China. The excavation period of the late caves is about 494 to 525 years, concentrated in the western part of the cave group, and there are mainly caves 21 to 45.
Cave 3 is the largest cave in Yungang Grottoes. The broken wall in front is about 25 meters high, and it is said to be a transliteration building. The cave is divided into a front chamber and a back chamber. A Maitreya chamber is cut out in the middle of the upper part of the front chamber, and a pair of three-story square towers are cut out to the left and right. On the west side of the south side of the back room, three Buddha statues with rounded appearance, full muscles and fine flower crowns are carved. The seated Buddha is about 10 meters high, and the two bodhisattva statues are 6.2 meters high each. Judging from the style and carving methods of these three Buddha statues, they may have been carved in the early Tang Dynasty (seventh century AD). On the upper end of the cliff in front of the cave, there are 12 rectangular beam holes with a height of 2 meters, which can prove that there was an unprecedented wooden structure here, which was later sacked , resulting in Lingyan Dongy u, sweeping the floor.
Cave 5 is located in the middle of Yungang Grottoes, and Cave 6 is a group of double caves. The cave is divided into a front room and a back room. The main image of the north wall of the back room is the third Buddha, that is, the past, present and future Buddha. The seated statue of Shakyamuni, the central lord, is the highest among the Buddhas. It is 17 meters high, 15.8 meters wide and 4.65 meters long. It is the largest Buddha statue in Yungang Grottoes. The four walls of the cave are full of Buddhist altars and statues. On both the east and west sides of the upper wall of the south wall, high-relief elephants bear the five-story tile roof of the eaves of the eyebrows. They are cleverly designed and exquisitely carved. A model of combining Indian Buddhist art. There are also five four-story pavilions in front of the two caves. The existing building was rebuilt in the eighth year of Shunzhi (AD 1651) in the early Qing Dynasty.
Flat Cave 6 is a square with a grand scale and dazzling decoration. In the center is a two-story square tower connecting the cave top, about 15 meters high. On the south side of the tower is a sitting Buddha statue, on the west side is a sitting Buddha statue, on the north side is a statue of Ying Duobao, and on the east side is a Maitreya statue. On the four sides of the tower, on both sides of the big salamander, on the two or three walls of the cave southeast, and on the sides of the bright window, there are 33 relief sculptures depicting Buddhist stories from the birth of Sakyamuni to Taoism. Inside there is a palace pavilion, fairy flying music, bullfighting ghosts, rare birds and beasts, four seasons flowers, mountains and flowing water, etc., forming a wonderful and vivid picture, exuding a strong atmosphere of life. This cave is the most representative of Yungang Grottoes.
The 9th to 13th caves of Jinyungang Grottoes, collectively known as Yungang Wuhua Cave, are named after the gorgeous paintings of the Qing Dynasty. The statues in the cave have various artistic shapes, which are used as image materials for studying art, history, calligraphy , music, and architecture.
In Wuhua Cave, the 9th and 10th caves are a group of flat squares, divided into front and rear chambers, and there are carved plant patterns on the upper and lower walls of the front chamber and the back chamber lintel. The structure is tight and full of change. The wall of the 9th cave is engraved with Buddhist altars, music bands, and maikos. The statues are vivid, flying, music bands have beautiful movements, unique shapes, smooth clothing, and strong dynamics. In the upper part of the exposed window in Cave 10, the stone carvings of Buddhas are exquisite, which is a more eye-catching place. Caves 11 to 13 are another group. Among them, the upper part of the main wall of Cave 12 is engraved with magical people , holding strings, pipes, and percussion instruments, with different expressions and vivid images. In their hands, the classical instruments such as xiao, cymbals, pipa, and flute are very precious, and they are important reference materials for studying ancient Chinese musical instruments. Some experts in Cave 13 believe that it was carved by Emperor Xianwen for his father, Emperor Wencheng. The Maitreya Buddha sits in the middle of the cave, with a statue of 12 meters high, and a statue of a wall fighter is carved between the right arm and leg. This is the only case in Yungang Grottoes. At the same time, the decoration of the east wall of Cave 13 is the most abundant in Yungang Grottoes. There is also a statue of seven Buddhas in the upper part of the south wall arch, which is graceful and graceful, which is very attractive.
The giant Buddha at Jinyungang Cave 20 sits on the ground. It is the most famous open-air Buddha in Yungang and has become the symbol of Yungang Grottoes. It may be due to an earthquake disaster that the cliffs in the front half of the cave collapsed, leaving the sitting Buddha to stand alone. It is speculated that he was carved in the image of Emperor Tao Wudi, the founding emperor of the Northern Wei Dynasty. He looks like an elder who has read through the vicissitudes and has a great talent and looks down at the earth in the sun. Because it is an open-air statue, although it is sitting, it still looks very tall. And because he can be farsighted, his solemnity is increased. The Buddha s body is well- proportioned and his style is concisely summarized. His broad body gives a sense of stability. He has the Buddha s thirty-two phases and eighty good-looking spirits . Outstanding representative. His slightly leaning body and sharp corners of his mouth seemed to be preaching the truth of Buddhism to all living beings. His finely curved eyebrows and slightly opened eyes made people feel kind and gracious. He was not only a cloud. The masterpieces of the Gangshi carvings, that is, the finest works of Buddha statues in the country.
The flying sky on the west wall of Cave 34 of Jinyungang is the most beautiful flying sky in Yungang Grottoes. This is a work from the later period of Yungang s folk digging. Although the sculpted lines are rough, the posture is delicate and expressive . Gao Chang and the fluttering of the head, the thinness of the face and the slender waist, the long skirt flutters and the feet converge. She has a very high cultural quality, which is the temperament of a Xianbei girl with a Chinese character. In her body, there are many meanings such as circling, flourishing, assisting, stretching, showing off.