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Grotto Art in Dazu County

Dazu county, located in the southeast of the Sichuan province, is 271 kilometers away from Chengdu and 163 kilometers away from Chongqing. "Dazu" here means "harvest and abundance (Dafeng, Dazu)".

The work of Dazu Rock Carvings began in the first year of Yonghui in Tang dynasty (650A.D.), and continued until Ming and Qing dynasties. Now, it enjoys equal popularity with Yungang and Longmen Grottoes. The general term of "Dazu Rock Carvings" refers to all the cliffside carvings in Dazu county, which includes the carvings in Beishan (including Beita), Baodingshan, Nanshan, Shizhuanshan and Shimenshan. Baoding Grotto, 15 kilometers northeast of the county seat, is the largest and best preserved one and is a key cultural relic site under state protection.

There are more than 50,000 Buddhist Taoist and Confucian rock carvings and 100,000 characters of inscriptions dotted around Dazu. The carvings not only include the statues of Buddha and Bodhisattva, but also include that of monarchs, ministers, military officers, high and low-ranking officials, jailers, executioners, monks, rich and poor people, and folk art performers. The earliest grotto was caved in the early Tang dynasty, and most of them have a history over 1000 years.

Many of the carvings in Baoding Grotto reflect religious doctrines, and another set of carvings reflects Confucianism, specifically filial piety. What the caving offers to visitors is not only the wonderful enjoy of the magnificent art but a Buddhist teaching like this: One can free himself from earthly worries by self-cultivation and does not need to go beyond his own inner world to find the truth of Buddhism. There are also many other carvings at the site that tell Buddhist doctrines through the lives of ordinary people.

With rich images as well as inscriptions, the Dazu Grottoes is regarded as an art treasure house which fully reflected the society, philosophy, religion and folklore of that time. In 1999, Dazu Stone Carvings were listed as a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO. And one point have to be pointed that the Dazu Grottoes are the only ones that were implemented according to an overall design among over 100 grottoes in China.


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