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North Grotto Temple - Art treasures of eastern Gansu province

People's Daily Online)  08:12, August 28, 2012


Edited and translated by Xue Meng, People's Daily Online

The North Grotto Temple, located 25 kilometers southwest of Xifeng Town of Qingyang County, Gansu province was built in 509 in the period of Northern Wei Dynasty. The temple experienced renovations through many dynasties including Western Wei, Northern Zhou, Sui, Tang, Song and Qing. It has become a large grotto group and one of the most important one on the north path of the Silk Road. The temple was rediscovered in 1959 and has been investigated, mapped, and cleaned for many times since 1961 by the archaeological team of the Gansu Museum, who later on published a book named “North Grotto Temple in Qingyang”. The local government has also funded this project for many times to reinforce and maintain the grotto, preventing it from more serious weathering.

The Northern Grotto Temple is one of the four biggest grottos in Gansu province. The total area is around 7,500 square meters. There are 296 grottos, 2,126 stone statues, 8 stone tablets, 97.6 square meters of mural, and 150 colophons. One of the most representative grottos is No. 165 Grotto, built around the year of 508-512, is 15.7 meters deep, 21.4 meters wide and 13.2 meters high. It includes eight Buddha statues at eight meters in height; 10 Bodhisattvas three to four meters tall; two cross-legged Buddha statues 5.8 meters tall; as well as many relief sculptures and carvings with images of warriors and lions.

The North Grotto Temple has become a national key cultural relic protection unit since January, 1988 and now is a very popular tourist site in eastern Gansu province.

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