Cave 1 and cave 2 from a pair of Buddhist cave temples.
In the center of cave 1 is carved a square pillar in the shape of
a two-storeyed pagoda. The main statue on the bank wall is maitreya.
On the upper sections of the east, west and south walls are statues
of celestial musicians and a seated Buddha in meditation. On the middle
section are carved a row of niches with statues.and at the north part
of the lower section on the east wall are two reliefs depicting syama
jataka. On the two reveals of the southern entrance are statues of
the bodhisa vimalakirti and manjusri.
CAVE 2 （A.D.470-493）
The design and form of cave 2 are similar to those
of cave 1. A pillar in the shape of a three-storeyed pagoda stands
in the center .the caves are carved in between every two storeyes
of the stone pagoda. The ridges of the roof, the rows of the tiles,
the rafters and outer parts of the pagoda are the carvings to resemble
the wooden buildings which afford valuable material for studying the
pagodas of the northern Wei dynasty on the south part of the ceiling
are the reliefs of lotus flowers and flying apsarases.
This is the largest of all the caves in YunGang,
named LingYan temple in the past. The
face of the cliff is about 25 meters high. The construction started
in the northern Wei period, the whole cave hadn’t been completed before
the capital was moved to LuoYang , except for the front chamber, the
south part of the back chamber, the nich on the upper part of the
front chamber and the two pagodas. The three Buddhist statues in the
back chamber were carved afterwards in the Tang dynasty.
In the centre is a square pillar with niches cut
on its four sides to house statues. Over the entrance, there is an
inscription dating from the zhengguang period (A.D.520-525). This
is the latest inscription in the northern Wei period found in the
YunGang caves. The bottom of the entrance is 1.4 meter lower than
the inside ground, which indicates that this cave was not completed
in history. This has provided reliable material evidence for the study
of carving methods and procedures .
Cave 5 forms a pair with cave 6, and each has the
front and back chambers. The main statues in the bank chamber of cave
5 show the thikala buddhas, the seated statue of Sakyamuni , 17 meters
high in the middle of the wall is the largest Buddha in the YunGang
over the inner surface of the cave are carved with niches and Buddhist
statues. On both reveals of the arched doorway are two buddhas sitting
face to face under a bodhi tree. In front of these two caves stands
a four-storeyed wooden structure rebuilt in the 8th year of ShunZhi’s
reign at the begining of the Qing dynasty(1651A.D.)
In the centre of the back chamber stands a square
pillar in the shape of a two-storeyed pagoda .which reaches up to
the ceiling. At
each corner of its top storey is a carved little pagoda. Niches are
cut on the four sides of each storey to house statues. On both side
of the niches and on the lower section of the pillar, on the east
, south and west walls, as well as on the two reveals of the window
are 33 reliefs depicting stories of Sakyamuny’s life from his birth
to his enlightenment.
CAVE 7( A.D. 470-493)
This cave forms a pair with cave 8. In front of
this cave is a three-storeyed wooden structure. Cave 7 has the front
and back chambers. The main statues on the upper sections of the north
wall in back chamber are the trikala buddhas, on the east, west and
south walls are four rows of niches. The caission ceiling is decorated
on the top of the cave. The six celestial donors over the arch of
the door in the south wall are exquisitely carved. The images of Sky
Bhiksu in meditation on the two reveals of the window are the important
historical material for studying Buddhist ideology in the northern
CAVE 8 (A.D.470-493)
The design and form of this cave are similar to
those of cave 7. The celestial gardians are carved on the two
reveals of the entrance. The east one is a statue of siva (mahesvara)
riding on a white bull, which has three heads and eight arms holding
the sun, the moom, bows & arrows as well as grapes. The west one
is a statue of Vishnu in appearance of a boy (Kumarkadeva) riding
on a peacock with his hands holding chicken. Both statues are very
skillfully shaped and engraved.
CAVE 9 (A.D.470-493)
This cave forms a pair with cave 10, and also consists
of the front and back chambers. On the south wall of the front chamber
are carved Octagonal pillars. On the east and west walls of the front
chamber of cave 9are niches carved in the form of three-roomed house. The ceiling
of the cave is decorated with flying celestials and lotus blossom.
The main statue on the north wall in the back chamber is Sakyamuni
Buddha and bodhisattvas are sculpted on the east and west sides. On
the other walls are carved niches depicting the Jataka stories about
the principal and subsidiary causes.
CAVE 10 (A.D.470-493)
The lintel of the northern entrance of the front
chamber is carved with designs of lotus flowers, interlocking acanthuses,
human figures, birds and animals. At its upper part is mount sumeru
with peaks in line on the top and two colling dragons in the middle
of the mount. The trees and animals in the mount and the incarnated
boys at the bottom of the mount are vividly carved. Flying apsarases
the ceiling are sculpted in lithe and graceful postures with ribbons
flying around them. The main image on the north wall in the back chamber
In the centre of this cave stands a square pagoda
pillar with niches and statues on each of the four sides of both upper
and lower sections. Apart from the image of maitreya in the upper
niche on the south side, the others are all the statues of standing
Sakyamuni judging by their style. The two bodhisattvas on both sides
of the standing Buddha in the lower niches on the south side of the
pagoda seem to be made in the Liao dynasty. The upper section of the
east wall bears an inscription dated from the 7th year of TaiHe( A.D.483)
of the northern Wei dynasty.
This cave is devided into the front and back chambers.
The outer wall surface of the front chamber is carved with wood-imitated
roofs and eaves as well as four columns. Thus resembling a three-room
hall. On the walls of the front chamber
are carved various niches and buddhas. Its ceiling is decorated with
caisson design. The top part of the north wall is decorated with a
carved band of celestial musicians. And on the east ,south and west
sides, there are eight images of yaksha, holding konghou, pipa and
other musical instruments.
The main image is a cross-legged maitreya, wearing
a jeweled crown, a bracelet and a snake-shaped necklace. His right
arm is supported from underneath by vajra. Above the entrance of the
south wall are the sculptured figures of seven standing buddhas, wearing
loose gowns with wide ribbons. On each reveal of the window is a bodhisattva
with a plump and strong body in exquisite craftsmanship.
CAVE 14 (A.D.494-525)
The four pillars insides the cave have collapsed.
Only the west wall has been survived and kept in a fairly good condition,
which shows a carved building in the shape of a one-storeyed pagoda,
and depicts the story of Vimalakirti.
A cross-legged maitreya, 15.6 metres high, is carved
on the north wall, a seated Buddha on the east wall, And a standing
Buddha on the west wall, which are generally named “The trikala buddhas”.
The offering celestial on the right side of the niche in the west
wall is vividly sculpted and gracefully shaped, with a hair-bun on
his head, A wide ribbon around his arms ,long skirt around his lower
body and a lotus bud in his hands. A niche on the east reveal of the
window was carved in the 13th year of Tai He’s reign.
The main images are the trikala buddhas. The Sakyamuni
buddhs, 15.5 metres high on the north wall wears a kasaya with a design
of thousand buddhas. His hand,exquisitely carved, holds a corner of
his kasaya up to hia chest. The upper section of the east wall is
covered with a group of Buddhist disciples,
one having keep eye sockets
and a high nose with elderly appearance; one being radiant in smile
with his mouth corners turning upwards; and other wearing a look of
thorough understanding. The vivid expression of every disciple is
CAVE 19 (公元460-470年)
The main images are the trikala buddhas .the seated
Sakyamuni in the main cave is 16.8 metres high, the second largest
in the YunGang caves. Wearing a well-decorated kasaya, he has a square-round
face, broad shoulders and long earlobes down to his shoulders. On
the east and west sides of the main cave are two adjacent chambers,
each housing a seated Buddha. Such kind of display of the trikala
buddhas is quite unique.
CAVE 20 (A.D.460-470)
The statue are no longer roofed over due to the
collapse of its front wall before the Liao dynasty. The main images
are the trikala buddhas. On the north wall is a statue of
seated sakyamuni, 13.7 metres high. this Buddha, with his plump face
and broad shoulders, is a typical example of the sculpture art of
the YunGang caves. A standing Buddha on the east side looks dignified
in a kasaya. The other one on the west side was damaged long time
The caves in the west section of the YunGang grotto
site vary greatly in style, such as those with three niches, those
with niches in two layers or those with thousands of little tiny niches
as well as those in a temple style with a pagoda-shaped pillar in
the centre. The statues, characterized by their slim appearance, show
style of the Han nationality. The acrrobatic performances are carved
in relief on the lower part of the north wall of cave 38.
Cave 39 is one of the largest caves in the western
section of the grottoes. There is an entrance in an arched shape,
on the inner surface of which is decorated with an acanthus design.
On the upper part of each eastern and western walls is an opening
used as a window.
All over the four sides of its inner walls can been seen Buddhist
statues in line. In the middle of the cave stands a central pillar
in a shape of a five-storeyed pagoda. On each side of every story
are four columns, in between which is respectively carved a shrine.
Inside each shrine is sculpted an image of either a seated Buddha,
or two buddhas sitting together, or a Buddha sitting cross-legged.