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  Maijishan Grottos and Longman Grottos

The Maijishan Grottos are situated in the Maiji Mountain, southeast of Tianshui County in Gansu Province. The mountain, which is shaped like a haystack, gets its name from the Chinese for haystack, ma4iConstruction of the Maijishan Grottos went on from the Northern Wei till the Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. But because of earthquakes and erosion by wind and water, about one-third of the grottos have crumbled in ruins. only 194 grottos with about 7800 clay and stone statues and some 1300 square meters of murals are preserved. Clay statues in the Maijishan Grottos include round carvings, deep reliefs, paste carvings, and wall carvings. The round carvings are very vivid and full of interest; they range from the 16-meter big Buddha to a small 10cm sculpture. The Buddha statues in the Maijishan Grottos are humanized, making viewers feel familiar with them.

The Longmen Grottos are situated on the bank of the Yi River in Luoyang, Henan Province. They were carved from the Northern Wei to the Song dynasties. There are over 21,000 grottos with some 100,000 statues in the Longmen Grottos. Two caves, the Guyang Cave and the Binyang Cave, contain the most representative statues. The Sykyamuni statue in the Guyang Cave sits cross-legged with a smile on his round face. The Buddhas on his two sides appear solemn. On the walls of the cave are three rows of big niches and countless small niches. The patterns in these niches are elegant and enigmatic.

The main Buddha in the Binyang Cave has a long face and nose; he is smiling. Three fingers of his left hand Curve downward, and his right hand is stretched forward, which indicates he is explaining Buddhist scripture. In front of the Buddha are two mighty stone lions; on two sides are four followers. The roof of the cave is carved with lotus flowers surrounded by white clouds, and the Flying Asparas are dancing in the clouds. On the front wall and the two side walls are four tiers of exquisite relief carvings.


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