Longmen caves are located in the South of Henan province, about 12 kilometers away from Luoyang city. It is regarded as one of the most valuable treasures of China, where stores a vast number of Chinese ancient Buddhistic sculptures. For its significance, Longmen was acknowledged as a World’s heritage by UNESCO.
Longmen is a work which is entirely inscribed on the spacious caves in Luoyang. It’s also on the list of three most illustrious caves in China.
In English, “Longmen” means “Dragon Gate”. This name is originated from the appearance of the mountain sides – where the caves are inscribed, plus Yi River in the middle, forming a shape of an arch gate.
Longmen was constructed in 493, during the Northern Wei dynasty (386 – 534). Even during the next six dynasties, it was still under construction. Hence, in total creating this masterpiece took 400 years.
Longmen caves still remain and preserve a great deal of historical documents related to religion, art, music, calligraphy, custom, pharmacy and transport of China and foreign countries. For that reason, Longmen is considered a big stone inscribed museum of China.
According to numerous studies of Chinese scientists, Longmen has 2.345 caves and hallows, 2.800 poetical inscriptions, 50 Buddha towers and 100.000 Buddha statues. Among Longmen caves, Fengxian, Guyang and Binyang Cave are the most out – standing.
Middle Binyang Cave is an iconic work of Northern Wei dynasty as its construction period is the longest, about 24 years. Moreover, inside the cave there are 11 impressively huge Buddha statues. Sakyamuni is the central statue, with a natural and graceful physiognomy, it’s regarded as a sculptural masterpiece of Northern Wei dynasty.
In front of the statue, there are two strong lion sculptures, on its right is two standing disciples and on its left is two Bodhisattvas smiling indulgently. Many other Bodhisattvas and disciples listening to Buddhistic scriptures are also lively inscribed inside the cave.
Fengxian is the largest of all caves, representing Tang dynasty’s sculptural style. Both of its breadth and length are above 30 meters. All the works in Fengxian is a perfect artistry combination, including Vairocana statue – an exceptional masterpiece. The height of Vairocana is approximately 15 meters, not to mention the 2 – meter high ears. The statue’s body is plump, elegant and extremely lively.
The Buddha statue’s knowledgeable eyes looking down coincidently meet visitor’s eyes looking up, touching people soul.
Guyang cave is the first cave to be carved among Longmen caves, it also contains the most plenteous content. It’s another representative of Northern Wei’s sculptures.
There are many niches inside Guyang cave, most of them have inscriptions. Those niches are where the artists recorded their name, time, and the reason for inscribing them. Guyang cave is a valuable source for Northern Wei Dynasty’s calligraphy and sculpture related studies. This cave still remains the medical prescriptions in 575, which include the treatments for almost every diseases from critical conditions to normal colds.
This huge relic completely demonstrated the talents, creativity and changed the Creator of humans.