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Yungang Grottoes

Yungang Grottoes

The Yungang Grottoes, in Datong city, Shanxi Province, with their 252 caves and 51,000 statues, represent the outstanding achievement of Buddhist cave art in China in the 5th and 6th centuries. The Five Caves created by Tan Yao, with their strict unity of layout and design, constitute a classical masterpiece of the first peak of Chinese Buddhist art.

Grottes de Yungang

Les grottes de Yungang, à Datong, province du Shanxi, avec leurs 252 grottes et leurs 51 000 statues, représentent une réussite exceptionnelle de l'art rupestre bouddhique en Chine au Ve et au VIe siècle. Les Cinq Grottes, réalisées par Tan Yao avec une stricte unité du plan et de la conception, sont un chef d'œuvre classique de la première apogée de l'art rupestre bouddhique en Chine.

كهوف يونغانغ

تمثّل كهوف يونغانغ في داتونغ مقاطعة شانكسي، والمكوّنة من 252 كهفاً و51000 تمثال، نجاحاً استثنائياً لفنّ النحت البوذي في الصين في القرنين الخامس والسادس. أنجز تان ياو الكهوف الخمسة موحّداً بين الخطّة والتنفيذ وهي تشكل تحفةً كلاسيكيّةً للذروة الأولى للفنّ البوذي للنحت على الصخر في الصين.

source: UNESCO/ERI

云岗石窟

云岗石窟,位于山西省大同市,现存洞窟252座、石像51 000尊,代表了5世纪至6世纪时期中国高超的佛教艺术成就。“昙曜五窟”整体布局严整,风格和谐统一,是中国佛教艺术发展史的第一个巅峰。

source: UNESCO/ERI

Пещерные храмы Юньган

Пещерные храмы Юньган в городе Датун, провинция Шаньси, включающие 252 пещеры и 51 тыс. статуй, представляют выдающееся достижение буддийского пещерного искусства Китая V-VI вв. Пять пещерных храмов, созданных Тань Яо, отличающихся единством планировки и убранства, являют собой шедевры того времени, когда китайское буддийское искусство переживало свой первый расцвет.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Grutas de Yungang

Este sitio se halla cerca de la ciudad de Datong, en la provincia de Shanxi. Sus 252 grutas, ornadas con 51.000 estatuas, representan una realización excepcional del arte rupestre búdico en la China de los siglos V y VI. Las llamadas Cinco Grutas, realizadas por Tan Yao con una rigurosa unidad de trazado y diseño, son una obra maestra clásica del primer período de apogeo del arte budista en China.

source: UNESCO/ERI

雲崗石窟
華北西部、山西省北部、大同市の西15kmに位置する全長約1kmにおよぶ仏教石窟群。5~6世紀の中国仏教石窟芸術の頂点を示す大窟21、中窟20を含めた252もの石窟と5万1000点余の彫像を今なお残している。厳密な様式とデザインの統一性を示す曇曜作の第5窟は、中国芸術最初の古典的傑作。第20窟の本尊は、今は失われたバーミヤンの大仏を彷彿させる。曇曜五窟といわれる第16~20窟が著名であり、第19窟は最大の石窟。

source: NFUAJ

Yungang grotten

De Yungang grotten, in de stad Datong (provincie Shanxi), met haar 252 grotten en 51.000 standbeelden zijn een uitzonderlijke prestatie op het gebied van boeddhistische grottenkunst in de 5e en 6e eeuw. Tijdens de bloei van het boeddhisme begon monnik Tan Yao met het houwen van de Vijf Grotten. De standbeelden in de grotten werden in 60 jaar (460 - 525) vervaardigd. De grotten waren vroeger bekend als de Wuzhoushan grotten en bevinden zich aan de zuidelijke voet van de Wuzhou bergen, in de Shi Li riviervallei. Behalve de grotten, zijn er in het gebied ook overblijfselen van een kasteel uit de Ming dynastie.

Source: unesco.nl

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Yungang Grottoes © Ian Whitfield
Justification for Inscription

Criterion (i): The assemblage of statuary of the Yungang Grottoes is a masterpiece of early Chinese Buddhist cave art.

Criterion (ii): The Yungang cave art represent the successful fusion of Buddhist religious symbolic art from south and central Asia with Chinese cultural traditions, starting in the 5th century CE under Imperial auspices.

Criterion (iii): The power and endurance of Buddhist belief in China are vividly illustrated by the Yungang grottoes.

Criterion (iv): The Buddhist tradition of religious cave art achieved its first major impact at Yungang, where it developed its own distinct character and artistic power.

Long Description

The Buddhist tradition of religious cave art achieved its first major impact at Yungang, where it developed its own distinct character and artistic power. The Yungang cave art represents the successful fusion of Buddhist religious symbolic art from south and central Asia with Chinese cultural traditions, starting in the 5th century AD under imperial auspices. At the same time it vividly illustrates the power and endurance of Buddhist belief in China.

Datong, known as Pingcheng in ancient times, became the capital of the Northern Wei dynasty between 398 and 494, and thus the political, economic and cultural centre of their kingdom. It kept its importance until 523, when it was deserted following a revolt. The statues of the Yungang Grottoes were completed in sixty years (460-525); this period marks the peak of development in Buddhist cave art of the Northern Wei dynasty. When the first emperor assumed the throne, Buddhism flourished and in 460 the monk Tan Yao started the carving of the Five Caves; since then, these grottoes have become the centre of Buddhist art in North China.

By 525 the initial project, sponsored by the court, was mostly completed, but low ranking officials and monks continued to dig more caves and carve statues. During the Liao dynasty, wooden shelter structures were built in front of the caves, turning the grottoes into temple buildings, such as the Ten Famous Temples. In 1122 these temples were destroyed in a war.

The Yungang Grottoes, known as Wuzhoushan Grottoes in ancient times, are located on the southern foot of the Wuzhou Mountains, in the Shi Li River valley, 16 km west of Datong City. They consist of 252 caves of various sizes housing more than 51,000 statues; the site extends much as 1 km east-west. Three main periods can be identified in the construction: the Early Period (460-65), the Middle Period (c . 471-94) and the Late Period (494-525). Apart from the grottoes, the nominated core area includes the remains of a castle, a defence wall, and a beacon tower of the Ming dynasty on the plain above the grottoes. The grottoes of the early period (460-65) are composed of five main caves; these magnificent and simple caves were dug under the direction of the monk Tan Yao and are named after him. For the layout of the grottoes, large caves were dug to house the giant statues, 13-15m tall. They have a U-shaped plan and arched roofs, imitating the thatched sheds in ancient India. Each cave has a door and a window. The central images have tall bodies and occupy the major part of the caves, while on the outer walls 1,000 Buddhist statues are carved, a feature rarely seen in the tradition of Chinese history of grotto carving.

They form the essence of the Yungang Grottoes, consisting of large caves, including four groups of twin caves and one group of triple caves. In this period there was a rapid development of the Han style and many new subject matters and combinations of statues were introduced, shifting the attention to the creation of law-enforcing images and various kinds of adornment. These caves are square in plan, usually with chambers both in front and in the rear; carvings on the walls are divided into upper and lower bands and right and left sections. Level caisson ceilings are carved on the roofs in most cases. On both sides of the outer walls there are high double-floored attics, and monuments stand high in the centre of the courtyard. The shelters in the style of wooden structures are supported by octagonal pillars, each carved with 1,000 Buddhas. The walls inside the caves are covered by long rolls of paintings divided into different layers and columns. All these reflect the layouts and traditional arrangements of halls in vogue in China during the Han dynasty.

The grottoes of the late period (494-525) are located in the west of the grotto area, in the Dragon King Temple Valley. In total, over 200 caves and niches were cut in this period. These caves are of medium and small size with varied and complicated irregular shapes. Decorations were also carved on the cliff around the door of the caves. There is a tendency towards simplification of the contents of the statuary and stylizing the forms, but with a new look of delicacy and gracefulness.

Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
Historical Description

Datong, known as Pingcheng in ancient times, became the capital of the Northern Wei Dynasty between 398 and 494 CE, and thus the political, economic, and cultural centre of their kingdom. It kept its importance up to 523, when it was deserted following a revolt. The statues of the Yungang Grottoes were completed in sixty years (460-525 CE); this period marks the peak of development in Buddhist cave art of the Northern Wei Dynasty. When the first emperor assumed the throne, Buddhism flourished and in 460 the monk Tan Yao started the carving of the Five Caves; since then, these grottoes have become the centre of Buddhist art in North China. Between 471 and 494 the worship of Buddha was diffused among the imperial members and nobles. Thus, as many as twelve large caves and as many as 70% of the total number of the big caves were dug and Chongfu Temple was built. By 525 CE the initial project, sponsored by the court, was mostly completed, but lowranking officials and monks continued to dig more caves and carve statues. These caves number more than 200; although they are relatively small, some are of excellent quality. During the Liao Dynasty, wooden shelter structures were built in front of the caves, turning the grottoes into temple buildings, such as the Ten Famous Temples. In 1122 CE, these temples were destroyed in a war. Four-storeyed wooden-structured garrets, each with five rooms, were constructed in front of Caves 5 and 6, and three-storeyed structures with three rooms each were in front of Cave 7 in1651 CE. Since the foundation of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the major caves and the wooden structures in front of them (caves 5, 6, and 7) have all been conserved. The grottoes are protected and are open to the public.

Source: Advisory Body Evaluation