A Step Back In Time
We had the most interesting stop on our travel day from our short stop in Chongqing to our visit to Chengdu. On this day we saw yet one more of the amazing ancient sites we found on our visit to China. We had the chance to marvel at ancient art when we visited the Dazu stone carvings.
The Dazu stone carvings are a series of Chinese religious sculptures carved into the rock. They represent Buddhist, Confucian and Taoist beliefs. There are more than 50,000 statues and over 100,000 Chinese characters of inscriptions and epigraphs.
The carvings were listed as a UNESCO site in 1999.
The Dazu Stone Carvings
We headed up into the hills and the forests on our drive from Chongqing. We were all dressed for the long walks and rainy weather when we visited the Dazu stone carvings. The walk from the bus took us across a bridge into a central courtyard. This is the new front gate that was built to accommodate the crowds.
From this point we got a short ride to the original old gate for the Dazu stone carvings. We walked from this point.
As soon as we rounded the corner, we saw the colourful carved walls towering above our heads. As far as we could see we saw the art that was the Dazu stone carvings. We took a minute to take in the full scene before heading in to explore the individual scenes.
The Wall Scenes
As we walked along the Dazu stone carvings, we listened to our guide as she explained the various scenes. There were carvings of Buddhas, Confucius figures and intricate scenes labelled “Amitabha and His Pure Land”. The next section of wall was labelled “Filial Piety”.
A section of the wall was devoted to the netherworld. Scenes of torture greeted us. The intricate detail drew us in.
Much of the stone walls were in great shape. But in other spots, you could see the damage that the elements have done. And where no restoration work has been done.
There was a cave in the wall. When we pressed a switch, the Buddha Vairocans scene was temporarily lit.
In the corner was a small waterfall with a scene labelled the “Nine Dragons Bathing the Prince”. A sleeping figure was labelled “Sakyamuni Entering Nirvana”.
When we visited the Dazu stone carvings, we learned more about the history of ancient China.
A Temple For Worship
There was a temple building standing in the middle. When we entered, we found a giant golden Buddha (“Avalokitesvara with Thousand Hands”) . Surrounding the Buddha was a wall of gold hands.
When we exited the building, we came upon the “Three Saints of Huyayan Buddhism” and the “Buddhist Wheel of Life”.
When we visited the Dazu stone carvings, we got a glimpse into the worship practices.
Finishing Up Our Walk Around the Carvings
A long display of statues was the “Guardians of Buddhist Law”. We walked slowly and looked at the faces of these guardians.
A much less colourful section of rock carvings represented the revered animals. They seemed to have no colour at all and blended into the wall. But when we looked close, we got another interesting view. We figured these had seen more damage from the elements and had not yet been restored.
Another cave with a mythical animal guarding the entrance was not open the day we visited. The guardian looked half dog and half dragon. A serene buddha face was found as we turned the final corner. The last set of statues we stopped at showed a quartet of Confucius on the corner.
When we visited the Dazu stone carvings, we were sad to finally hit the last one.
We Were So Glad We Visited the Dazu Stone Carvings
There was much more to see but we were finished for the day. We passed the Wansui Tower pagoda and did not stop. Back at the main gate there was no time to explore the different buildings or shops. But it had been a great day.
An early morning departure from our stay in Chongqing was fully justified when we visited the Dazu stone carvings and found it almost empty. Maybe it was also the rainy morning. But we got to see the Dazu stone carvings with little crowds. Few of my pics had umbrellas blocking the images. And we got to move through the display at a very slow pace. We saw so much more than we would have on a crowded day.
Have you visited the Dazu stone carvings? Did you have a favourite section?
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