Ten Thousand Buddhas Cave in Longmen Grottoes

Ten Thousand Buddhas Cave in Longmen Grottoes

The Ten Thousand Buddhas Cave (万佛洞), situated within the Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang, Henan Province, derives its name from the approximately fifteen thousand small Buddha statues meticulously carved on the northern and southern walls of the cave. This magnificent cave was commissioned under the supervision of Yao Shenbiao, a second-rank palace maid, and Zen Master Zhiyun, during the reign of Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty, around the year 680 AD.

During this period, Empress Wu Zetian had amassed extensive political support both within and outside the court. Her patronage of Buddhism and close association with prominent Buddhist monks endeared her to both clergy and commoners alike. The construction of the Ten Thousand Buddhas Cave by women of the Tang Dynasty’s upper echelons not only symbolized their devout religious beliefs but also influenced many other women in society, leading to the proliferation of female-sponsored Buddhist grottoes in the vicinity.

The central figure within the Ten Thousand Buddhas Cave is Amitabha Buddha, depicted in a seated position atop a double lotus pedestal. His countenance is serene and benevolent, with broad shoulders and robes carved in the flowing lines typical of Tang Dynasty sculpture. The Buddha displays the “fearless mudra,” symbolizing fearlessness and supreme authority. Behind the main Buddha figure are fifty-two lotus blossoms, each adorned with a Bodhisattva offering, depicted in various poses and expressions, evoking a sense of ethereal beauty and grace.

The northern and southern walls of the cave are adorned with meticulously carved small Buddha statues, each measuring a mere four centimeters in height. Surrounding these Buddha statues are depictions of six musicians, their graceful movements and elegant postures captured in exquisite detail. The cave as a whole serves as a representation of the Pure Land of the Western Paradise, exuding an atmosphere of joyous celebration and the aspiration for enlightenment.

Adjacent to the entrance of the cave, on the southern side, stands a statue of a Bodhisattva, exemplifying the exquisite craftsmanship of Tang Dynasty Buddhist sculptures. This Bodhisattva statue, measuring 85 centimeters in height, features a gracefully inclined head and a sinuous “S”-shaped body, conveying an aura of elegance and dignity.

Other Attractions in Longmen Grottoes

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