Reference work entry
The Yungang Grottoes are one of the largest grottoes in China and are also a World Cultural Heritage Site. They are located in the southern foothills of Wuzhou Mountain, 16 km west of Datong, Shanxi Province. The rocks of Wuzhou Mountain are Jurassic feldspar quartz sandstone. The Yungang Formation sandstone is mainly composed of carbonatite, which is hard and has a tight structure. This property facilitates the carving of statues. The Yungang Grottoes were built along an east-west portion of the mountain that is approximately 1 km long. There are 45 existing grottoes, 252 niches of various sizes, and 51,000 statues, representing outstanding Buddhism grotto art of the fifth and sixth century in China. Among them, the Five Tanyao Grottoes have a precise and unified design theme that is a Chinese Buddhism art masterpiece from the peak period (Fig. 13).
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