What the camera recorded defies explanation so impressive and untouchable. You may be thinking how the hell was this built when you get your first glimpse of the magician grottos looking at the grottos, I could only describe it as looking similar to an ant hill with walking paths running through the mountain it’s carved into on a lower Scale.
However, it’s a profound spiritual oasis, the clay sculpture of majistan gratos, is famous at home and abroad. The thousands of sculptures here can be as high as 16 meters and as small as only 10 centimeters, reflecting the sculpture characteristics in various times, and the development of chinese clay sculpture art over the past thousand years.
Maiji Shan grottos today can be roughly divided into western cliff and eastern clift. The diverse buddhist statues, valuable murals and architectures built in the cliff, are all worth a visit in order to protect those cultural relics, some caves are selected as special caves and need to buy extra ticket.
The following caves are just part of maishisan grados, the maiji shangrados, formerly romanized as maijishan are a series of 194 caves cut in the side of the hill of maijishan in tianshu gansu province, northwest china. This example of rock cut architecture contains over 7200 buddhist sculptures and over 1 000 square meters of murals construction began in the late chin era 384-417 ce.
They were first properly explored in 1952 to 1953 by a team of chinese archaeologists from beijing who devised the numbering system still in use today. Caves 1 through 50 are on the western cliff face caves 51 through 191 on the eastern cliff face. They were later photographed by michael sullivan and dominique darboys, who subsequently published the primary english language work on the caves noted in the footnotes below the name.
Maijishan consists of three chinese words that literally translates as wheat stack mountain but because the term mai is the generic term in chinese for most grains. One also sees such translations as cornrick. Mountain mai means grain, ji means stack or mound and sean means mountain. The mountain is formed of purplish, red sandstone they’re, just one of the string of buddhist grottos that can be found in the area of northwest china flying more or less on the main routes connecting china and central Asia.
These sites, along with other archaeological sites along the eastern silk road, were inscribed on the unesco world heritage list in 2014 as part of the silk roads, the roots network of sheng and tanshi corridor site maijishan is located close to the east west route that connects xi’an With lan zhao and eventually don hang, as well as the route that veers off to the south that connects xi’an with chengdu in sichuan and regions as far south as india.
At this crossroads, several of these sculptures in maijisan from around the 6th century appear to have an indian, a southeast asian feature that could have come north via these north-south routes. The earliest artistic influence came, however, from the northwest, through central asia, along the silk road later.
During the song and ming dynasties as the caves were renovated and repaired, the influences came from central and eastern china and the sculpture is more distinctly chinese cave shrines in china probably served two purposes originally before Buddhism came to china, they may have been used as local Shrines to worship, one’s ancestors or various nature deities with the coming of buddhism to china, however, influenced by the long tradition of cave shrines from india such as ajanta and central asia, primarily afghanistan, they became part of china’s religious architecture.
Buddhism in this part of china spread throughout the support of the northern liang, which was the last of the 16 kingdoms that existed from 304 to 439 ce a collection of numerous short-lived sovereign states in china. The northern liang was founded by zhongzhou barbarians.
It was during their rule that cave shrines first appeared in gansu the two most famous sites being tianshan celestial leader, mountain south of their capital gyeongsheng, and when shushan meant juicery’s mountain halfway between yongsheng and don huang maijishan was most likely started during this wave of religious Enthusiasm sometime between 420 and 422 ce a monk by the name of chan, hong arrived in majeshan and proceeded to build a small monastic community.
One of the legends is that he had previously been living in shanghan but had fled to maijashan when the city was invaded by the sung army. Within a few years he was joined by another senior monk yangao, who brought 100 followers to the mountain. Both are recorded in a book entitled memoirs of eminent monks. Eventually, their community grew to 300 members.
Yong gao later moved to the court of the local king, where he remained until its conquest by northern y, when he, together with all the other inhabitants of the court, were forced to migrate and settle in the y capital. He died in 444 during a period of buddhist persecution, tanhang also left maishashan during this period and traveled south to somewhere in koshin china, where in approximately 455 he burned himself to death.
How the original community was organized and looked, we don’t know. Nor is there any evidence to show whether the settlement they founded was destroyed and its members scattered in the suppression of 444 and the ensuing years, or whether it was saved by its remoteness to become a haven of refuse, as was to happen on several later occasions. In the history of majeshan, the northern y was good to maishashan and the grotto’s existence close to the y capital city of lol, young and the main road was brought to the site recognition and most likely support.
The earliest dated inscription is from 502 and records. The excavation of what is now identified as cave 115 Other inscriptions record, the continued expansion of the granos as works were dedicated by those with the financial means to do so. These y caves are fairly simple and most follow the pattern of a seated buddha, flanked by buddha, saftas or other attendants, sometimes by monks or lay worshippers. The most common buddha is amitabha.
The principle buddha of the pure land act amitabha enables all who call upon him to be reborn into his heaven, the pure land there they undergo instruction by him, ultimately to become bodhisattvas and buddhas in their own right.
This was a very popular school of maya, hayan buddhism. During this period, the monks are usually the two most famous associated with the historical buddha, the younger ananda and the older kasyapa, although sometimes the monks are simply generic monks. We also find statuary of nuns and lay worshipers and donors standing near the doorways guarding the buddha and his entourage are a pair of the davarpala or the four heavenly kings. There are also statues of the historical buddha and the buddha of the future. Some of the statues of the historical buddha show gandharan influence of the central asia.
The clue is in the volume and drapery of the robes, as well as the shape and proportions of the statue’s body and head. Nearly all of the statuary at majeshan is made of clay with the addition of some sort of binding agent to help preserve the sculptures when stone sculptures appear. They are generally made of sandstone and many are exquisite. The sandstone is reportedly not to be indigenous, but instead of unknown origin, it’s unknown where the statues were made or how they were hauled up into. The caves of special note is cave 133, with 23 stone steel.
While there are many examples of why statuary there are fewer examples of the northern zhao which replace the y with more solid, massive and sculptural forms. The influences mentioned earlier that came from india began to be apparent in this period and the subsequent sui with stiffly posed. Figures are replaced by more liquid trapanja stances, one of the most common types of caves found at both don hang, that of a cave with the central shaft is not found at majeshan.
We have almost no records of majeshan during the tang, a period during which it was probably in part under the control of the tibetans. As a result of the anlushan rebellion, anz saw an opportunity to swoop in and capture shanghan and its regions, because both don wang and maishashan were under tibetan occupation.
In 845 ce the year of the great buddhist persecutions, both were fortunately saved. Today we can find some tang sculpture influence and the powerful modeling of some of the guardian deities, for example, the very large davar paula on the narrow, open terrace from which led the seven buddha halls. The tang was also an era of noteworthy earthquakes, including a very severe one in the region. In 734, the tang poet dufu visited the site 25 years later and wrote a poem entitled mountain temples. That probably is a description of maijishan.
It translates there are few monks left in these remote shrines and in the wilderness. The narrow paths are high. The musk deers sleep among the stones in bamboo. The sung dynasty brought major restoration initiatives to majeshan so that much of what visitors see today are older grottos. With new or replaced sung period sculpture, the most notable changes in this period is the shift in emphasis from the buddha shown most dramatically in cave 191 on the extreme western cliff face.
The middle ming was a period of revival and restoration. Remember. This is prime earthquake zone, the last to make any significant mark on majeshan before the present century. It was also during this period that the two huge triads of statues on the eastern and western faces of the clift were repaired on the southeast cliff face a seated maitreya with legs pendant, flanked by two standing bodhizas on the southern cliff face an incomplete triad of A tall standing buddha, flanked by two attendants in summary, construction and restoration, extended over twelve dynasties in
maishashan, although the region has fallen victim to many earthquakes and other natural and man-made disasters, 194 caves remain encompassing 7 200 pieces of sculpture and 1 000 square meters of Frescoes all excavated on a cliff face, 30 to 80 meters above the ground. These numbers were given the caves by the original 1952-1953 chinese archaeological team.
Many of the statues, especially those inside the caves, are exquisite and ornately decorated. These more elaborate statues were generally not created with indigenous stone, meaning the rock for these huge ornate statues was hauled up the mountainsides from somewhere else strange as much as you like, but you will not find a satisfactory answer for every question the grottos pose,
regardless the Beauty of these mysterious caves and carvings transcends beyond archaeological mysteries. There’S no tourist industry here, except for the myshishan grottos. So there are no hostels and more cheap hotels. Don’T accept foreign tourists, a very common thing outside the tourist trail in china, thanks for reading.