Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Monday, December 17, 2001
Yungang Grottos Listed as World Heritage
The 25th meeting of world heritage committee has passed decision to list China's Yungang Grottoes on World Heritage List, the news came from Helsinki December 13. This brings China's total sites on the list to 28, next only to Spain and Italy.
Located at the south foothill of Wuzhou Mountains in Datong City, Shanxi Province, Yungang Grottoes were built in 453. There are 53 grottos and 1,100 niches with about 51,000 statues in the grottoes. The highest Buddha is 17-meter high and the smallest is only 2 centimeters. It is one of China's three grotto treasures.
It combines traditional Chinese art forms with foreign influences to create a unique style that occupies an important place in the history of Chinese art and it is renowned as China's historical treasure and representation of China's ancient civilization.
Grottos Get Well Protection
Over the past 1500 years since its completion, it has undergone many times of wars and natural damages that caused big ruins to the grottoes.
After the founding of new China, Chinese government attached great importance to the protection of the Yungang Grottoes. A special protection institution was set up in 1995 and in 1961, the State Council listed Yungang Grottoes as key cultural unit under its protection. From 1973 to 1976, under the guidance of Premier Zhou Enlai, China injected a huge sum of money for the consolidation of the grottoes and in recent 10 years, Datong municipal government intensified its efforts to protect the grottoes.
We saw 230 million-yuan put in to eradicate coal pollution near the grottoes and some 20 million yuan was invested for developing Yungang tourism, all those efforts have helped the grottoes to be successfully listed on the world heritage.
Yungang Grottoes, some 16 kilometers west of Datong, contain China's largest and earliest stone sculpture. The sculptural works at Yungang are noted for the fleshy, vigorous features and rich variety.
Today, more than 1500 years after execution, the Yungang Grottoes still boast over 1100 shrines and niches of widely varying sizes and no less than 50000 sculptures of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. The larger-sized caves, 53 all told, are scattered over the southern foot of Wuzhou Hill, sprawling for over a kilmetre from east to west. Walls peeling with the passage of time add an archaic note to these caves, while the sculptures peep out at the world through door or window-like openings.