Yaofang Cave (Medical Prescription Cave) in Longmen Grottoes

Yaofang Cave in longmen grottoes

Yaofang Cave (药方洞), also known as the Medical Prescription Cave, is situated between the Fengxian Temple and Guyang Cave on the western hillside of Longmen in Luoyang, Henan Province. It is a cave of profound historical and cultural significance, carved during the late Northern Wei Dynasty and completed during the reign of Empress Wu Zetian of the Tang Dynasty, spanning approximately two hundred years. Among the more complex caves in the Longmen Grottoes, Yaofang Cave holds a distinguished place.

The name “Yaofang Cave” derives from the numerous stone-carved prescriptions found along the passageway leading to the cave. These prescriptions, known as the Longmen Medical Prescriptions or Longmen Fang, are the earliest, most extensive, widely disseminated, and influential stone-carved medical prescriptions preserved in China. They encompass methods for treating cancer and infectious diseases, with formulations including powders, alcoholic preparations, pills, natural remedies, ointments, and decoctions. Administration methods mentioned range from oral ingestion with water or alcohol, to consumption with gruel, and gargling, covering various medical fields such as internal medicine, surgery, gynecology, pediatrics, otorhinolaryngology, and neurology. The prescriptions utilize over one hundred twenty types of medicinal substances derived from plants, animals, and minerals, providing invaluable materials for the study of ancient medical and pharmaceutical practices.

Furthermore, Yaofang Cave reflects various artistic styles from different periods, ranging from the “elegant and thin” style of the late Northern Wei Dynasty to the robust and graceful style of the Tang Dynasty. The main sculptural figures in Yaofang Cave consist of one Buddha, two disciples, and two Bodhisattvas, characterized by their broad proportions, short and stout necks, and robust bodies, exhibiting the distinct artistic style of the Northern Qi Dynasty. It stands as the only large cave in the Longmen Grottoes showcasing the Northern Qi style.

In summary, Yaofang Cave in the Longmen Grottoes is not only a precious heritage of ancient Chinese medicine and pharmacology but also an important site for the study of Buddhist art and historical culture, possessing significant historical, artistic, and scientific value.

Other Attractions in Longmen Grottoes

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