Dazu Rock Carvings

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The Dazu Rock Carvings are a series of Chinese religious sculptures and carvings, dating back as far as the 7th century AD, depicting and influenced by Buddhist, Confucian and Taoist beliefs.

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Dazu Rock Cavings
Dazu Rock Cavings

Listed as a World Heritage Site, the Dazu Rock Carvings are made up of 75 protected sites containing some 50,000 statues, with over 100,000 Chinese characters forming inscriptions and epigraphs.

Dazu Rock Cavings
Dazu Rock Cavings

The steep hillsides in the Dazu area near Chongqing, contain an exceptional series of five clusters of rock carvings dating from the 9th to 13th centuries. The largest cluster at Beishan contains two groups along a cliff face 7-10m high stretching for around 300m.

Dazu Rock Cavings
Dazu Rock Cavings

There are more than 10,000 carvings dating from the late 9th to the mid-12th century which depict themes of Tantric Buddhism and Taoism. Inscriptions give insight to the history, religious beliefs, dating and the identification of historical figures. The late 11thcentury Song dynasty carvings at Shizhuanshan extend over 130m and depict Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian images in a rare tripartite arrangement.

Dazu Rock Cavings
Dazu Rock Cavings

The Song dynasty carvings at Shimenshan dating from the first half of the 12th century extend along 72m and integrate Buddhist and Taoist subjects. At Nanshan the Song dynasty carvings of the 12th century extend over a length of 86m and depict mostly Taoist subjects.

Dazu Rock Cavings
Dazu Rock Cavings

The culmination in terms of expression of Tantric Buddhism is found in the U shaped gorge at Baodingshan which contains two groups of carvings dating from the late 12th to the mid-13th century near the Holy Longevity Monastery. The very large group to the west stretches for about 500 metres and comprises 31 groups of carved figures depicting themes from Tantric Buddhism as well scenes of herdsmen and ordinary life.

Dazu Rock Cavings
Dazu Rock Cavings

The carvings are known for their grand scale, aesthetic quality and rich diversity of subject matter as well as for being well preserved. Standing as an example of the highest level of Chinese cave temple art dating from the 9th to 13th centuries, the Dazu Rock Carvings not only underline the harmonious coexistence in China of three different religions, namely Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, but also provide material proof that cave temple art has increasingly shed light on everyday life.

Dazu Rock Cavings
Dazu Rock Cavings

Large numbers of carvings and written historical materials within the heritage site show the great changes in and development of cave temple art and religious beliefs in China during that period.

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