Dazu Rock Carvings
|UNESCO World Heritage Site|
|Location||Dazu District, Chongqing, People's Republic of China|
|Inscription||1999 (23rd Session)|
|Area||20.41 ha (0.0788 sq mi)|
|Buffer zone||211.12 ha (0.8151 sq mi)|
The Dazu Rock Carvings (Chinese: 大足石刻; pinyin: Dàzú Shíkè) are a series of Chinese religious sculptures and carvings and UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Dazu District, Chongqing, China. The carvings date back as far as the 7th century AD, depicting and influenced by Buddhist, Confucian and Taoist beliefs. Some are in rock-cut cave shrines, in the usual Chinese Buddhist style, but many others are rock reliefs carved into the open rock faces. Listed as a World Heritage Site in 1999, the Dazu Rock Carvings are made up of 75 protected sites containing some 50,000 statues, with over 100,000 Chinese characters forming inscriptions and epigraphs. The sites are located in Chongqing Municipality within the steep hillsides throughout Dazu District, located about 165 kilometers west of the urban area of Chongqing. The highlights of the rock grotto are found on Mount Baoding and Mount Beishan.
The Dazu Rock Carvings comprise 5 locations in Chongqing Municipality: Beishan, Baodingshan, Nanshan, Shizhuanshan, and Shimenshan.
- 'Beishan' contains two groups of rock carvings and sculptures along a cliff face stretching for 300 meters. These date from the 9th to the 12th century and portray Tantric Buddhist and Taoist themes.
- 'Boadingshan' includes carvings in a U-shaped valley near the Longevity Pavilion, dating from the 12th and 13th centuries. Stretching for 500 meters, the carved figures depict themes from Tantric Buddhism in addition to secular life.
- At 'Nanshan', the rock art dates from the Song Dynasty during the rule of the Emperor Shao Xing, depicting Taoist themes and symbols. In addition, there is a stele recording the history of Sichuan after a Mongol invasion in the 13th century.
- 'Shizhuanshan' carvings are dated from the early 12th century, uniquely integrating rock-hewn sculptures and carvings depicting Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism together. The most prominent of the grotto sculptures are thought to have been sculpted by Wen Wijian, a famous sculptor of the time.
- 'Shimenshan' contains carvings that date from the 12th century, including statues of the Jade Emperor and several gods.
The technique for rock carvings may have originated in ancient India. The earliest carvings were begun in 650 AD during the early Tang dynasty, but the main period of their creation began in the late 9th century, when Wei Junjing, Prefect of Changzhou, pioneered the carvings on Mount Beishan, and his example was followed after the collapse of the Tang dynasty by local and gentry, monks and nuns, and ordinary people during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period (907-65). In the 12th century, during the Song dynasty, a Buddhist monk named Zhao Zhifeng began work on the elaborate sculptures and carvings on Mount Baoding, dedicating 70 years of his life to the project. Unlike most collections of rock carvings, the Dazu rock carvings include statues representing all three major religions: Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.
Off limits to visitors for many years, the carvings were opened to Chinese travelers in 1961 and foreign visitors in 1980. Until 1975, there was only a muddy path between the town of Dazu and the main cluster of carvings.
The carvings were listed as a World Heritage Site in 1999, citing "…their aesthetic quality, their rich diversity of subject matter, both secular and religious, and the light that they shed on everyday life in China during this period. They provide outstanding evidence of the harmonious synthesis of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism."
Statues of various Buddhas at Baodingshan
The Thousand-armed manifestation of Guanyin at Baodingshan
Baodingshan panorama of the eighteen layers of hell
Statue depicting Sakyamuni Buddha entering Nirvana at Beishan
- "Dazu Rock Carvings Baodangshan Site". TripAdvisor. 21 September 2014.
- "Dazu Rock Carvings". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. Retrieved 4 Apr 2021.
- State Bureau of Cultural Relics, People's Republic of China (1999). Dazu Rock Carvings (PDF) (Report). United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. Retrieved 4 Apr 2021.
- Terrill, Ross (January 14, 1990). "Serene Haven of Buddhist Art". The New York Times. Retrieved February 11, 2009.
- UNESCO World Heritage Centre page
- Wisdom embodied: Chinese Buddhist and Daoist sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a collection catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries (fully available online as PDF), which contains material on the Dazu Rock Carvings