Yungang Grottoes


Datong City, Shanxi Province
N40 6 34.992 E113 7 19.992
Date of Inscription: 2001
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iii)(iv)
Property : 348.75 ha
Buffer zone: 846.81 ha
Ref: 1039
News Links/Travelogues:

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.

The massive Yungang Buddhist grottoes were cut from the mid-5th Century to early-6th Century AD.  Comprising 252 caves and niches and 51,000 statues within a carved area of 18,000 square meters, the Yungang Grottoes represent the outstanding achievement of Buddhist cave art in China. The Five Caves created by Tan Yao are a classical masterpiece of the first peak of Chinese art, with a strict unity of layout and design. The will of the State is reflected in Buddhist belief in China during the Northern Wei Dynasty since the Grottoes were built with Imperial instructions. While influenced by Buddhist cave art from South and Central Asia, Yungang Grottoes have also interpreted the Buddhist cave art with distinctive Chinese character and local spirit. As a result, Yungang Grottoes have played a vitally important role among early Oriental Buddhist grottoes and had a far-reaching impact on Buddhist cave art in China and East Asia.

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 represents 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.


Suggested Bases:

Datong is a city in Shanxi Province, China. Datong is a small city with relatively little experience with foreigners. People here are friendly and curious. For simple entertainment, stop at a chuanr (meat on a stick) stand near Red Flag square, or Red Flag square itself and chat up the locals. See Yúngāng Grottoes (Yúngāng Shíkū) (take bus #4 to the end of the line [the end of the line is just a simple stop and then the bus starts going back, ask the driver for the grottoes and he will let you know where to get off] change to #3 and take that to the end of the line. Another bus to the Grottoes can be boarded here, here or here). By far the greatest attraction of the area is the 1,500-year-old Yúngāng Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These mountain-side caves and recesses are filled with 51,000 Buddhist statues – the largest being a 17-metre Seated Buddha while the smallest is only a few centimetres tall [read more]

Ulanqab or Ulan Chab is a region administered as a prefecture-level city in south-central Inner Mongolia, People’s Republic of China. Its administrative centre is in Jining District, which was formerly a county-level city. It was established as a prefecture-level city on 1 December 2003, formed from the former Ulanqab League. Ulaan Chab city has an area of 54,491 square kilometres (21,039 sq mi). It borders Hohhot to the west, Mongolia to the north, Xilin Gol League to the northeast, Hebei to the east and Shanxi to the south. The western part of Ulaan Chab used to be part of the now defunct Chinese province of Suiyuan. Ulanqab features a cold semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk), marked by long, cold and very dry winters, warm, somewhat humid summers, and strong winds, especially in spring. More than half of the annual precipitation of around 360 millimetres (14.2 in) falls in July and August alone. Ulanqab’s transportation network is well-developed, connected by several railways and highways [read more]

Hohhot (Chinese: Hūhéhàotè; Mongolian: Kökeqota) is the capital of Inner Mongolia. The urban area with a population of over 2 million. Hohhot has only been the capital of Inner Mongolia since 1947 but is rapidly growing and challenging Baotou as the region’s industrial and economic powerhouse. Although only around 11% of the city’s population are indigenous Mongols, Mongolian Buddhism (an offshoot of Tibetan Buddhism) continues to thrive and Mongolian culture is actively preserved. As a new capital, the city lacks an abundance of historical and tourist sites. However, it is still definitely worth visiting if in the area. The city is at its greenest and most pleasant in spring and early summer. Because of the large Hui Muslim population, restaurants with a green or yellow sign are generally Halal and will not serve pork. See Da Zhao Temple (Dàzhāosì) (a lot of buses from almost everywhere go here). The oldest Buddhist monastery in the city constructed in 1579 [read more]



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