Longmen Grottoes statues of Buddha worship in the grottoes Temple of the Northern Wei Dynasty

The grotto temple is located on the hillside near the south end of Longmen West Mountain, to the south of the burning cave which is almost empty due to weathering and collapse. Among the medium-sized caves in the Northern Wei Dynasty, it is a rich and colorful art treasure house. The name of Longmen Grottoes temple was first seen in the record of Luoyang Jialan. However, through a survey of Longmen Grottoes inscriptions and related documents, we can see that Guyang cave is the earliest Grottoes Temple cave. The reason why the cave was named as a grotto temple is that the cover and guide came from the Lishi in the south of the cave. In the third year of Xiaochang (527), Emperor Xiaoming of the Northern Wei Dynasty, on September 19, the inscription on the grotto of emperor Taiwei, Huangfu Gong, was also named “Huangfu Gong cave” because of the excavation of emperor Hu’s younger brother, Huangfu Du.

The scale of Huangfu’s niches is not large, but its statues are rich in content, compact in layout, varied in niches system, regular in shape and exquisite in carving. Among the Longmen Grottoes, it is rare for the cave niches to be so ornate as the openings and lintels of the Huangfu gongniches. Carved in the lower part of the north and south walls of the grottoes, there are two wonderful relief “Buddha worship” pictures, which are the most artistic value of the grottoes, as well as the research value of expressing and understanding the life of the ruling class in the Northern Wei Dynasty.

In the relief of the South and North walls of Huangfu grottoes, the figure patterns have a strong painting meaning. According to the tradition, men, left and women, right have always been arranged and positioned since ancient times. However, in Huangfu’s niche, it is different from the past. On the south wall, there is the Buddha worship map of a family headed by the cave Lord huangfudu and his wife. It is 72 cm high and long 224 cm, there is a square plate engraved in the middle of the picture, which is supported by Lishi. There are fumigating furnaces and lotus flowers in the plate, and a group of people supporting Buddha worshipers are moving towards the center on both sides of the East and the West. There are 6 and 11 people in the East and the west, respectively. This is a picture of Buddha worship for men, left and right, headed by a bhikkhu. In the group in the west, the first to the fourth are all male worshipers. The man in front is a strong man, wearing a high hat and a large shirt. He should be the master of worshiping Buddha. Three attendants follow him, two of them hold a canopy, one of them carries clothes and skirts for the master, and the body is slightly smaller than that of the master. One of the attendants is wearing a Hu suit, which is rare in the Northern Dynasties. Unfortunately, due to the long time, the weathering on the right side is quite serious, and the picture is damaged a lot. We can only see two female providers holding a lotus flower. They are led by bhikuni in front, followed by the attendants, some carrying their lapels, some holding the canopy and Yu Bao. On the west side of the relief picture of the great shrine of the north wall, it is 68 in height and 157 cm in length. The two emperors and the concubines on both sides hold the budding lotus buds, which also move towards the fumigation stove in turn under the encirclement of the lines of qinghuagai and holding Yubao.

The relief of “Empress Dowager and emperor worship Buddha” in the lower part of the north wall is much better than that of the relief. There are 15 people in the relief, but it breaks the arrangement of male left and female right, Centering on a middle-aged lady, the first three people in cassock are picturesque from the East. The first two picturesque faces are pretty and relatively young. They are bending down to take spices and add them to the censer with a incense bowl. It seems that the ceremony of Buddha worship is about to begin. The third is the senior monk, with a full and round face, solemn expression and left-hand almsgiving in front of him. The fourth is a dignified middle-aged woman with gorgeous headdress. She looks like a thick fishing rod at the back of her head. She wraps it around her forehead from the top of the crown and hangs it with spikes. She holds a bud in her left hand, wears a long dress with long sleeves, a strap, and a sachet on her waist. She moves forward happily and slowly, followed by a servant. One holds a canopy, two holds a feather, and the other holds a man’s head Lifting the lapel, we can see the noble status of her. From her small girl to her master’s skirt, her difficult posture shows the extent of the royal family’s sleeve width, and also shows the thoroughness of the Chinese dress. On the back of her, there is a young man with a crown on his head, a robe with wide robes and large sleeves, a bowl on his right hand, and a lotus bud on his left hand, which is the same as the lady in front, interesting There is another boy behind him to hold up his clothes. The man and woman in the center of the picture are undoubtedly emperor Xiaoming and empress Hu. They are surrounded by a group of palace maids, some holding a canopy, some holding a Yubao, some holding a lotus bud. Here Yubao and Huagai are not objects to protect the host from the wind and rain, but more a symbol of identity and power These attendants are all pious, serious and rigid. This statue vividly depicts the identity, age, character and temperament of the characters through realistic methods. Although these two Buddhist rituals have been mentioned for many times in the academic circles and the previous literature, some of them are explained as “the emperor’s Buddhist rituals” and “the empress’s Buddhist rituals”, or the supporting images of the empress and the emperor, which are not conclusive, but need further exploration, but It is undeniable that they are all important works to explore the court life and painting art of the Northern Wei Dynasty 1500 years ago, depicting the expression state and spiritual outlook of different figures of the royal family of the Northern Wei Dynasty in the ceremony of Buddha worship, which has a high artistic value. Among them, “the emperor, the Taihe and the Buddha worship map” of the northern wall, some scholars and experts believe that they can be compared with the “luoshenfu map” of the Jin Dynasty and the Tang Dynasty “Wu Hou Xing Cong Tu” is comparable. Especially when two “emperor and empress Buddha pictures” of Binyang middle cave were stolen and chiseled, these two pictures became the only most complete Buddha pictures in Longmen Grottoes, which were very precious.

These two pictures of Buddha worship break through the symmetrical form of the Buddha worship pictures of Emperor Xiaowen and empress Wenzhao in the middle cave of Binyang in composition. In terms of carving techniques, they are simple and concise, with outstanding figures and clear outlines, so the overall sense of carving is quite strong. Although they are not as exquisite and magnificent as those in the middle cave of Binyang, they have a direct impact on the artistic charm of the Buddha worship in the grottoes Temple of Gongxian County.

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