To understand the vast Buddhist influence upon Chinese culture, one must travel to the Longmen Grottos (龙门石窟－Lóng mén shí kū) located just outside of Luoyang (洛阳－Luò yáng), Henan province. Nestled around the Yi River (伊河－yīhé), these Longmen Grottos are home to some of China’s most famous stone and rock sculptures, depicting, among other things, images of the Buddha, Bodhisatva and Bodhidarma–central elements of local religious culture.
These grottos epitomize the influx of Buddhist (佛教-fó jiào) culture in Henan province from the 5th century on. Walking along each side of the river, you truly experience the size and scope of these Buddhist artisans and merchants, who continued the work of mother nature by carving even deeper into the river-eroded cliff-sides. As centuries passed, these walled cliffs were added to and augmented by disciples and pilgrims traveling across the Silk Road and into central China. Today they stand as a historical relic of Buddhism’s crawl across Asia.
Check out the gallery below:
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