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Yungang Grottoes

Yungang Grottoes, located at the foot of Wuzhou Mountain, 16 km west of Datong, is one of China's largest grottoes and world-famous treasure-house of arts and culture.

Yungang Grottoes were carved during the Northern Wei Dynasty under the charge of a Buddhist monk named Tan Yao as ordered by the emperor. The grottoes extend one kilometer from east to west and consist of a series of 53 caves. There are 1,100 niches with about 51, 000 statues, the largest 17 meters high and the smallest two centimeters.

There are a number of Buddhist statues and decorative frescos in the Grottoes. One seventeen-meter Buddha with down-cast eyes seems to gaze with penetrating insight into the human heart as it wavers between good and evil. An extremely rare statue of Shiva with eight arms and four heads is riding on a bull. Many of the carvings combine traditional Chinese art forms with foreign influences to create a unique style.

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