The Longmen Caves

Longmen Grottoes 400
Longmen Grottoes
Photo by: kevinpoh, Creative Commons

The Longmen Caves or Longmen Grottoes depict Buddhist beliefs in a nature backdrop. One trip to this site will make you appreciate Chinese art of the Tang Dynasty.

If you are a fan of sculpting and Chinese art, this is the place for you. The Longmen strip is a heritage site with sacred sculptures of Buddhas, and other Chinese gods made just from pure limestone.

The Longmen caves is a collaboration of various dynasties including Northern Wei dynasty and Tang Dynasty. It consists of 1350 caves, 40 pagodas, and 750 niches. All of these caves contain sculptures counting up to 111,000 statues of holy men. You will notice the progression of art style throughout the tour, seeing the different interpretations of the consecutive dynasties.

The Datong art style is seen in the three Binyang caves. These caves have the earliest sculptures made by Northern Wei dynasty. The sculptures are generally observed to show Greek influences including longer faces, thin bodies, and fishtail wardrobe.

The Cave of Ten Thousand Buddhas (Wan Fo Dong) was built by Gao Zong in 680 AD with almost 15,000 Buddhas. The Lotus Flower cave (Lianhua) is attractive with a big lotus carved in its roof.

The Ancestor Worshipping Cave (Feng Xian Si) contains the most beautiful sculptures. The center sculpture of a Vairocana Buddha with a Bodhisativa on its left features intricately designed cave walls and Tang dynasty-inspired art.

There are other caves showcasing art like the oldest Guyang cave that holds sculptures with traces of the original paint, Medical Prescription Cave with the carvings of 575 cures of every illness, and the Tomb of Bai Juyi, a famous Tang dynasty poet.

The Longmen caves will leave you breathless.

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