We Found Ancient Art When We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings

We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

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.

Rui Xiang Gate- We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

Rui Xiang Gate- We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

Rui Xiang Gate- We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

Rui Xiang Gate- We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

From this point we got a short ride to the original old gate for the Dazu stone carvings. We walked from this point.

Shuttle Bus - We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

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.

First View - We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

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”.

Dazu Confusius - We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

Dazu Amitabhaand His Pure Land - We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

Dazu Amitabhaand His Pure Land - We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

Dazu Goddess - We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

Niche of Parental Love Sutra - We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

A section of the wall was devoted to the netherworld. Scenes of torture greeted us. The intricate detail drew us in.

Dazu Netherworld - We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

Dazu Netherworld - We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

Dazu Netherworld - We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

Dazu Netherworld - We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

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.

Dazu Filial Piety - We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

Dazu Filial Piety - We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

There was a cave in the wall. When we pressed a switch, the Buddha Vairocans scene was temporarily lit.

Dazu Cave Buddha Vairocans - We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

Dazu Cave Buddha Vairocans - We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

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”.

Dazu Nine Dragons Bathing Prince - We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

Dazu Sakyamuni Entering Nirvana - We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

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.

Dazu Avalokitesvara with Thousand Hands Buddha - We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

Dazu Avalokitesvara with Thousand Hands Buddha - We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

When we exited the building, we came upon the “Three Saints of Huyayan Buddhism” and the “Buddhist Wheel of Life”.

Dazu Three Saints - We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

Dazu Buddhist Wheel of Life - We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

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.

Dazu Guardians of Buddhist Law - We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

Dazu Guardians of Buddhist Law - We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

Dazu Guardians of Buddhist Law - We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

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.

Dazu Ritual Site of Buffalo - We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

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.

Dazu Foo Dog Cave - We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

Dazu Buddha Face - We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

Dazu Corner Quartet Confucius - We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

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.

Dazu Wansui Tower - We Visited The Dazu Stone Carvings.jpg

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.

After a busy morning, we boarded our bus for the ride to visit Chengdu. Everyone was quite excited. Because we saw panda bears in Chengdu!

Have you visited the Dazu stone carvings? Did you have a favourite section?

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18 Comments

  1. That temple is absolutely astounding and in such good condition overall. I adore the detail and that there are remnants of the original paint. So glad that you visited early and didn’t have umbrellas blocking these beautiful images.

    • Elaine, We were so glad we got there early. Even if we did have rain. It was so great to have our guide move very slowly and tell us stories about each section and individual pieces. Definitely glad we stopped here on our visit to China. Linda

  2. The Dazu Stone Carvings look absolutely fantastic, so intricate and so much detail! And the golden Bhudda, wow, I’ve seen a lot of Bhuddhas on my travels but never one like that with all the hands! I’d love to visit here if we ever go to China.

  3. We would have done the same as you and made sure we got there early, as to not have crowds in every picture. The Avalokitesvara with Thousand Hands looks absolutely incredible, so much attention to detail, it’s unreal!

  4. Wow those rock carvings and statues look impressive… and I’m glad the rainy weather didn’t spoil your trip, you got some awesome shots! I’m visiting China in 2 months, will bookmark this!

  5. The giant golden Budhha is such a contrast to the rest of the carvings on the temple. Neverthless, the temple looks amazing and the Dazu Stone carvings, so beautiful, so intricate! I love Buddhist temples because of the lovely architecture. Even the entrance gate has been made so nicely!

    • Medha, I agree that finding the golden Buddha was a very different thing to see at this site. But there was also a 5 storied pagoda. So over time different elements of worship have been added. Linda

  6. Wow, Linda, the Dazu stone carvings are incredible. The contrast between the stone and the blue and other colourings are so striking! The detail is beyond belief – I love the dog/dragon creature especially. Digging the poncho pic of David too 😉

    • Hannah, We were not prepared for this site to be so massive. Always fascinating to see the contrast between the original carvings and the ones that have been restored. But glad to see they are doing them as they find the details to do the restorations properly. Linda

  7. Those stone carvings are honestly a bit intimidating – scene of torture all around the outside – yikes! I might be tempted to run away! Looks like a very interesting site to visit though and great they are restoring these

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