Exclusive Knowledge: The Yungang Grottoes
This image originates from Zhangzhugang.
In 444 CE, Emperor Taiwu's prime minister Cui Hao suggested and believed that Buddhists had supported the rebellion of Gai Wu. Then Emperor Taiwu ordered the abolition of Buddhism. Emperor Taiwu's grandson, Emperor Wencheng is a Buddhist. He officially ended the prohibitions against Buddhism, after he became emperor.
Cave 20, This image originates from TAOZIlovewiki.
The Yungang Grottoes, formerly the Wuzhoushan Grottoes, are ancient Chinese Buddhist temple grottoes in the province of Shanxi. The grottoes are commissioned by Emperor Wencheng of the Northern Wei Dynasty. There are 53 major caves, along with 51,000 niches housing the same number of Buddha statues. Additionally, there are around 1,100 minor caves.
In the early days of the building of Yungang Grottoes, it shows the style of Gandhara and Gupta Empire. The posture of Buddha is also full of foreign style, including a plump face, a deeper eye contour, and a taller nose.
The peak of the building of Yungang Grottoes was in the period of Emperor Xiaowen of the Northern Wei Dynasty. The main building structure of the grottoes mostly follows the style of the Han Dynasty, and the clothes and expressions of the Buddhist statues are also different from the earlier ones. For example, the costumes of most Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are similar to those worn by scholar-officials in the Southern Dynasties, and their faces and features are more like Chinese people.
By Jason Ma, a Buddhist art expert in Hong Kong