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The Maijishan Grottoes masterpiece of cave architecture

The Maijishan Grottoes masterpiece of cave architecture

The huge stone statues of Buddhas. The Maijishan Grottoes masterpiece of cave architecture. Gansu Province, China

The Maijishan Grottoes masterpiece of cave architecture
Located in Gansu Province, China, Maijishan Grottoes is an amazing example of ancient rock cave architecture consisting of more than 7,000 Buddhist sculptures and about 1000 square meters of murals. Maijishan Grottoes means wheat stack mountain, and it is 142 meters high. Maijishan is a few miles south of the Silk Road and it explains to be the attractive place for the monks and artists traveling this route, some of them settled at the hill and made their creations on the grottoes. Originally made of wood stairs leading up and around were  later replaced by metal supports – for safety reasons.

Maijishan Grottoes masterpiece

The view of The Maijishan Grottoes. Gansu Province, China

Immense Buddhas grace the almost perpendicular side of the mountain – the tallest is over 16 meters in height. The sculptures have helped archaeologists to not only track the growth and advance of Chinese sculpture but the history and expansion of Buddhism in China.

The early sculptures are very much of the Indian school with the form evolving in to its own unique and indigenous representation of Chinese Buddhism. The sculptures here differ from those in other parts of China in as much as most of them are not carved directly from the rock.

The rock here is too soft for that sort of manipulation so the figures are, instead, clay models. Some are solid clay but many are built over a wooden frame. The few sculptures created from rock have been brought in from elsewhere.

Altogether the construction and constant restoration at Maijishan cover 12 Chinese dynasties. They represent a beautiful and graceful testament to the work and faith of countless generations of monks and artisans.

The Maijishan Grottoes masterpiece of cave architecture

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