Dazu Rock Carvings – Chongqing, China - Atlas Obscura

Dazu Rock Carvings

Comprised of thousands of cave temple carvings this cornucopia of ancient Chinese stone art is unrivaled anywhere in the world. 


Covering figures and imagery taken from Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism the sprawling Dazu Rock Carvings are a series of cave sculpture temples clustered in central China that were built over thousands of years and catalogue huge portions of the country’s religious history with beautiful stonework.

Originally started some time in the 7th century CE during the Tang dynasty, the expert carvings continued to be created well into the 13th century. While most of the figures in the five clusters of carvings are of Buddhist icons, there are also Taoist and Confucianism-related symbols throughout. In addition there are also countless depictions of daily domestic and farming life from the periods in which the carvings were created. Taken all together there are more than 60,000 figures spread out across the various sites, creating what is unquestionably one of the most spectacular collections of ancient sculpture work in the world, even earning the region the nickname, “the country of rock carving.”

The site was kept strictly off-limits until the 1960s when it was opened to Chinese nationals, which kept people people from appreciating the carvings, but also saved them from destruction during the country’s various cultural revolutions. inn the 1980s the historic sites were opened to everyone regardless of nationality and can be visited by anyone wishing to take a gorgeous tour through Chinese religion and history.

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