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The Longmen Caves

Only 15 minutes drive from Luoyang Longmen Railway Station, Longmen Caves is the top place to visit in people’s Xian to Luoyang tour. Located about right milds south of Luoyang on the Yi River at a spot where high cliffs on either side form a pass, this place was once known as the “Gate of Yi River” but’ later became known as “The Dragon Gate” or “Longmen”, after the Sui Dynasty emperor who was in those days worshiped as a dragon.

Work began on the caves in A. D. 494 when an emperor of the Northern Wei moved the capital from what is now known as Datong (Shanxi Province) to Luoyang. The artistry is therefore an extension of that evident in the Buddhist caves at Yun Gang jus outside the earlier capital. The work a Long Men proceeded through periods encompassing seven dynasties, and there are more than 1,300 caves, 40 small has-relief pagodas, and almost 100,000 statues of Buddha ranging in size from 1 inch to 57 feet. These caves and the stone sculptures therein rank with the caves at Yun Gang and Dun Huaug (Gansu Proving) as the great remaining masterpieces of Buddhist culture in China.

One of the special features of Long Men are he many inscribed stone tablets; there are more than 3;600 of thee in the cave. They represent valuable material for archeologists in their study of historical reference, the way of life of the peoples and the evolution of Chinese script.

The caves, which were entirely hollowed out by man, have been inexistence for over I 500 years, but have suffered a great deal of deterioration from natural causes and through acts of vandalism, particularly by antiquarians collating for museums and private collections before 1949. Many precious piece have been removed and are now on display at well-known museums around the world.

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