On Longmen Grottoes, geomancy and environment

Abstract: the excavation of Longmen Grottoes has a direct relationship with the environment. This relationship is mainly reflected in the special geographical location, the ideal “Fengshui” resort, the characteristics of stone, the natural way of excavation and other factors, which shows many characteristics of Buddhism art integrated into the local culture of the Central Plains.

There is a certain relationship between the site selection of the Buddhist grottoes and the Buddhist practice of Zen. The practitioners need to meditate in the place with clean environment, so they should choose to stay away from the noisy city, quiet mountain forest and water cliff. In the Sutra “secret Dharma Sutra of Zen”, it says: “when you go out, you should be in a quiet place. If you are in a tomb, if you are under a tree, if you are in a practice place.” It is also clearly pointed out in Fu Fa Zang’s biography of fate: “in the mountains and hollows, you can sit and meditate while you are in a niche. You can bear all the hardships of the cold weather.” The excavation of ancient Chinese grottoes and temples was basically carried out on this premise. The site selection of Longmen Grottoes not only conforms to the specific environmental requirements of Buddhists’ practice of Buddhism and monks’ worship of Buddhism for their merits, but also embodies the site selection concept of traditional Chinese landscape view.

Longmen Grottoes is located at the gate of Longmen, 12.5km south of Luoyang City, Henan Province. It is 112 ° 27 ′ 54 ″ east longitude and 34 ° 33 ′ 24 ″ north latitude. The East and West Mountains face each other. The east mountain is Xiangshan Mountain, with an altitude of 371.8m. The west mountain is also called Longmen Mountain, with an altitude of 307.6m. Yishui flows through from south to north, forming Longmen canyon. Longmen gorge is located in the East-West complex structural belt of Qinling in the North Asia belt and the southeast of Luoyang basin. The direction of the gorge is slightly north-south (N10 ° E), with a length of about 1200m in the north-south, a width of about 150-250m in the east-west and a depth of about 120m. ① Longmen Grottoes are built in such a geographical environment. Why do you choose this place to build statues of grottoes? What’s the relationship between the grottoes and the surrounding environment? In analysis, there are several aspects.

The important position of the capital in ancient times and the direct factors of the Northern Wei Dynasty moving to Luoyang

Luoyang is located in the transition zone from the south edge of the warm temperate zone to the north subtropical zone, with four distinct seasons and pleasant climate. Different from Dunhuang Grottoes and Yungang Grottoes, Heluo area, where Longmen Grottoes are located, is one of the important birthplaces of Chinese civilization. As early as the 21st century BC, it became the central area of the Xia Dynasty. Luoyang became an important political and cultural center in the Central Plains at the beginning of Zhou Ping’s capital moving in the spring and Autumn period. In the historical records of Zhou Dynasty, Luoyang is regarded as the capital of the country. “Yuanhe county records” has: “Yu Gong Yu state territory, in heaven and earth, so three generations are capital.” ③ Description of. Luoyang is surrounded by mountains on all sides. Zhang Hua’s “book of things” says: “Zhou is in the central area, blocking the valley in the west, looking at Jingmen in the East, Shaoshi in the south, Taiyue in the north, three rivers in the north, Lei Feng and four dangerous countries.” ④ In view of the superior historical and human geographical environment of Luoyang, Emperor Xiaowen of the Northern Wei Dynasty moved his capital from Pingcheng to Luoyang in the 17th year of Taihe, which became the direct factor for the excavation of Longmen Grottoes, and thus formed the Central Plains Grottoes Temple group with Luoyang as the center. According to the inference of experts and scholars on the study of Longmen Grottoes, the excavation age of Longmen Grottoes was about 17 years before Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei moved the capital of Luoyang to Taihe. ⑤ although experts and scholars have different views on the excavation age of Longmen Grottoes, there is a direct relationship between the excavation of Longmen Grottoes and the relocation of Luoyang.

The special geographical relationship between Longmen and Luoyang

The eastern and western mountains of Longmen, especially the western mountains, are chosen as the sites for the excavation of the grottoes. Not only because of their certain cultural and historical evolution, but also because of their indispensable environmental characteristics, they have become the only preferred Buddhist grotto Temple resort around Luoyang. Before the Tang Dynasty, Longmen called it “Que plug” or “Yi Que”. (Fig. 1) in the book of water classics, Yishui, it is said: “Yishui is in the north again, entering yique. In the past, Dayu used to dredge water. The two mountains were opposite each other, and the view was like a que. During the period of Yishui calendar, the water flowed northward, so it was called yique. ” ⑥ In the 26th year of Zhaogong’s reign (516 BC), Zuo Zhuan of the spring and Autumn Period said: “Jin Zhizhen, Zhao Yangshuai and his master appointed the king, and his maids guarded the castle.” ⑦ Description of. During the Warring States period, Longmen became an important strategic area. “Zhongshan policy of Warring States policy” states that “Han and Wei led each other to a great number of troops, which the emperor could not do half of, but to yique, to break the two armies, blood flow, beheading 240000.” ⑧ The biography of Wang Jian in Shiji Baiqi also has: “next year, Baiqi will become zuogen, attack Han and Wei in yique, behead 240 thousand people, and take gongsunxi, the general of Baiqi, and pull out five cities.” ⑨ Description of. In the Eastern Han Dynasty, Longmen became one of the eight gateways to protect Luoyang. According to the book of lingdiji in the later Han Dynasty, “in March, Wushen took Yin He Jin of Henan Province as the general and stationed troops in the capital Pavilion. I’m going to set up a lieutenant of eight passes. ” ⑩ It can be seen that the geographical location of Longmen was very important at that time. In the Northern Wei Dynasty, yique was a new town county at that time, and it was still an important gateway to Luoyang. It can be seen that Longmen is closely related to Luoyang capital because of its unique and important geographical location.

The unique charm of scenery

Longmen is not only an important strategic location, but also the first of Luoyang’s eight scenic spots because of its beautiful scenery. Bai Juyi has “four suburbs of Luodu, the best landscape, the first Yan of Longmen; ten temples of Longmen, the best sightseeing, the first Yan of Xiangshan” 11. Wei Yingwu in the “Longmen tour overlooking” there is “chiseling mountains to guide the flow of Iraq, if the interruption of heaven Bi. The city door is far away from each other, and good Qi is born day and night “. The Yishui between the eastern and western mountains of Longmen originates from the langdunling of Xionger mountain in Lushi County, Henan Province. The upper reaches of Yishui are rich in bamboo and wood, and the water flow is still clear from the lower reaches. In the late crossing of Yishui written by Wei in Tang Dynasty, there is a description of “walking in Yishui for a long time, Yishui can see the stone clearly”; Cui Rizhi has a picture of “peeping through the stone in front of the rock, stepping on the Fangyin by the river”. There are many hot springs in Longmen. The spring water gushes out of the cliff and boulders, forming the natural landscape of Longmen Mountain. It is recorded in Shuijing Zhu Yishui that “under Lingyan on the west side, springs flow eastward and enter Yishui. Fu Yi’s “anti capital Fu” said: “because the Longmen to Chang, open Yi que to reach Cong also.” The scenery of “Longmen Mountain” made the literati and poets who lived in Luoyang or traveled here leave poems and verses.

Site selection principle in line with traditional “Fengshui”

According to the traditional view of fengshui, Longmen Grottoes have the basic elements of location selection of Chinese traditional Fengshui. Ancient China’s urban construction, village houses and burial sites were all carried out in accordance with the concept of Fengshui. When Buddhism art was introduced into China, it not only brought foreign culture, but also gradually integrated into the local culture of the Central Plains, forming a sculpture style and architectural style with the local culture of the Central Plains. To build Buddhist temples, we must choose the “geomancy treasure land” in the natural environment. “The method of Fengshui is that the water is the top, and the wind is the second.” The best way to get water is to choose a water outlet. “Green black classics” cloud: “Shuikou is suitable for the fusion of mountains and rivers, and the flow is endless.” In the chapter of “buried wings, Shuikou”, the importance of “Shuikou is the gateway of the earth” is even more recognized. The environmental choice of Longmen Grottoes is exactly in line with the principle of “collecting wind and getting water” in traditional geomancy. Yishui flows between the western and eastern mountains of Longmen, forming the trend of gate gate gate, which is the best place to get water. The environment of Longmen Grottoes not only has the best choice to get water, but also basically embodies the site selection concept of “negative Yin embracing Yang” and “back mountain facing water”. Longmen Mountain, also known as Xishan Mountain, is basically in the north-south direction, but most of the caves are located in the southeast of the Shuikou. In this way, the best environmental choice of “getting water” and “hiding wind” is achieved.

Proper distance from the capital

Longmen Mountains and waters not only have the unique natural beauty, but also have the objective factors of proper distance from the capital of the Northern Wei Dynasty. Before and after the Northern Wei Dynasty moved to Luoyang, Longmen western mountain became the first choice of Buddhist grottoes temple. Luoyang is surrounded by mountains, where Luoshui, Yishui, Jianshui and Jianshui meet to form a basin. In terms of different mountains around Luoyang, there are mang mountain, Shouyang mountain, Yushan Mountain, Songshan Mountain and other mountains of different sizes around Luoyang, which are different from the capital city of Luoyang. Some mountains are close to the capital, but the natural environment and basic conditions are not available. For example, Mang Mountain in the north of Luoyang City, though close to the capital city, is a loess hilly area. Because of its good cohesiveness, compactness, and compactness, it is suitable for tomb placement. Since the Han Dynasty, it has become the burial choice for emperors and their relatives and nobles. It is obvious that mountain mang cannot be the place where the grottoes are dug. Shouyang mountain, 30km from the east of Luoyang City, is the highest mountain Mang in Yanshi. It is also a mountain in the loess layer and cannot be carved. However, apart from the natural environment and the feasibility of the roads along the route, it is not suitable to be too far away from Qingyao mountain, which is 66km away from Luoyang. Other mountains, such as Song Mountain, Zhou mountain and Wan’an mountain, have their own unique mountain structure and cultural landscape, but the choice of Buddhist grottoes can not be compared with that of Longmen. In the Northern Dynasty, the number of temples and niches in Longmen Grottoes was relatively small compared with that in Luoyang at that time. Mr. Wang Ziyun thought that the distance between Longmen and Luoyang capital in Han and Wei Dynasties was relatively long. 15 but in terms of other surrounding areas where caves could be carved, the distance between Longmen Grottoes and Luoyang capital was appropriate.

Geological structure and the origin of stone carving

The excavation of Longmen Grottoes is closely related to the characteristics of Longmen Mountain. The geological structure of Longmen gorge basically belongs to Cambrian middle limestone, lower Cambrian purple with grey green shale and lower and Middle Ordovician limestone. This kind of limestone is fine and hard, so it can be engraved with different modeling language features from the grottoes before the capital moved to the Northern Wei Dynasty. For example, Binglingsi Grottoes group in Yongjing County, Gansu Province, is located in xiaojishishan area, where the stone is red sandstone; Yungang Grottoes are located in Jurassic thick sandstone, with the main components of feldspar and quartz. As Mr. Wang Ziyun said, “because Longmen Grottoes are limestone, they are relatively hard and fine, so they are more delicate than Yungang in the production of statues.” The exquisite and exquisite modeling language features of the limestone Buddha statues in Longmen Grottoes indicate that the material itself was a more suitable image carrier for the introduction of Buddhist art into the Central Plains at that time and for the integration of local culture. This feature seems to be more in line with the aesthetic needs of the literati and officials in the Central Plains at that time.

Natural arrangement of niches

For the excavation and layout of Longmen Grottoes, the early grottoes were basically “built with natural caves and cliffs, without specific planning intent. Most of the later grottoes were not uniformly deployed, and only a few important grottoes were planned in groups”. Guyang cave became the first grottoes. The way of gouging Guyang cave is based on natural karst cave. This way also embodies the traditional cultural concept of “let it be as it is”. Of course, there are also factors that make it difficult to carve grottoes. According to the book of Wei · Shi Lao Zhi, “at the beginning of Jingming Dynasty, Qiu Qingbai, the chief commander of emperor Shizong’s imperial edict, reorganized the grottoes of jinglingyan temple, which were located in yique mountain of Luonan. It was the second grottoes of Gaozu and Empress Dowager of Wenzhao. At the beginning of its construction, the cave top went to the ground 310 feet. In the first two years, it began to cut the mountain 23 Zhang. To the great chang, Qiu Qing, Wang Zhi, said that cutting the mountain was too high, and it was difficult to work, so he asked to move down to the level, to the ground one hundred feet, and to the north and south one hundred and forty feet. ” This record shows that the initial excavation of Longmen Grottoes was basically based on the ups and downs of the mountain. This idea and form, until the increasing number of Grottoes in Sui and Tang Dynasties, Longmen Grottoes gradually formed the layout characteristics of unequal size arrangement and scattered space before and after the mountain situation.

Through the above brief analysis, we can have a preliminary understanding of the relationship between Longmen Grottoes and the environment. The location of Longmen Grottoes and the layout gradually formed reflect the layout characteristics of relying on the natural landscape and harmoniously integrating with the environment. It is also the perfect embodiment of the traditional “Fengshui” location principle in Longmen. Further in-depth study of the relationship between grotto art and environment can help us to understand the background and environmental causes of Buddhist grotto temple statues more accurately, help us to further study the internal relationship between grotto art and local culture, and help us to further expand the research fields of Chinese art history and Chinese sculpture history.

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