Kanjing Temple in Longmen Grottoes

kanjing temple in longmen grottoes

Kanjing Temple (看经寺) is situated on the northern side of the Wanfo Valley in the eastern hills of Longmen in Luoyang. It is the largest cave there. The facade of the cave features a two-story brick and tile structure built during the Qing Dynasty. The inscription “看经寺” is carved above the entrance. The cave has a flat-topped square shape with dimensions of 13.9 meters in depth, 11.2 meters in width, and 8.3 meters in height. Unlike other caves from the same period, Kanjing Temple does not have a main statue on its front wall. Instead, it has an altar in the center of the cave floor, where a Buddha statue is placed for worship. It is believed that the cave was excavated for Zen Buddhism practice, serving as a meditation hall for monks.

The cave is adorned with a lotus flower coffered ceiling, surrounded by four beautifully sculpted flying apsaras. On the east, south, and north walls of the cave, there are twenty-nine statues of Arhats carved in relief on a 1.2-meter-high pedestal. These statues, each approximately 1.80 meters tall, depict the twenty-nine patriarchs of Indian Buddhism, from Mahākāśyapa to Bodhidharma. Despite some damage, the statues are intricately carved with vivid expressions, showcasing a harmonious yet varied representation, making them masterpieces among the stone-carved Arhat groupings in Longmen.

The cave was likely excavated during the reign of Empress Wu Zetian. Additionally, the cave houses three seated Buddha statues carved in the round from the Song Dynasty. On the south wall, there are nine rows of small Buddha statues in relief, while the north wall features several rows of small Buddha statues as well as some lotus-borne Bodhisattva sculptures.

On April 19, 2001, the National Cultural Heritage Administration held a ceremony at the Palace Museum in Beijing for the “Transfer Ceremony of Longmen Grottoes Sculptures Returned by the Canadian Government.” Among the sculptures returned by Canada was the first statue on the south wall of Kanjing Temple, depicting the foremost disciple of Gautama Buddha, Mahākāśyapa. This statue had been chiseled off and lost overseas in the late 1930s.

Other Attractions in Longmen Grottoes

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