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The Longmen Grottoes

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The Longmen Grottoes or Longmen Caves are located 12 km south of present day Luoyang Henan Province,China.The grottoes,which overwhelmingly depict Buddhist subjects.are densely dotted along the two mountains:Hsiangshan(to the east)and Longmenshan(to the west).The Yi River fiows northward between them.For this reason,the area used to be called Yique(The Gate of the Yi River).From north to south,the distance covered by grottoes is about one Kilometer.Along with the Mogao Caves and Yungang Grottoes,the Longmen Grottoes are one of the three most famous ancient sculptural sites in China.There are over 2,100 niches,more than 100,000 statues,some 40 pagodas and 3,600 tablets and steles in the caves of Guyang,Binyang and Lianhua.

During the Warring States Period,the general Bai Qi of Qin once defeated the allied forces of Han and Wei at the site.Construction of the grottoes themselves began in CE 493.

The site has been subjected to significant vandalism at several points in its history.Major artifacts were removed by Western collectors and souvenir hunters during the early 20th century. The heads of many statues were also destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. 

The area was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in November 2000. According to the inscription,the Longmen Grottoes are an illustration of”the perfection of a long-established art form which has played a highly significant role in the cultural evolution of this region of Asia.” 

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