Why does a Buddha statue make a peace sign pose? What kind of smile can last through 1,000 years? The year 2020 marks the 1,560th anniversary of the excavation of Longmen Grottoes. Irgashev Shakhrukh, a young man from Russia, arrived at a place connected with a long history and started his journey at the Longmen Grottoes. Themed on “Assemblage of Wall Sculptures, the Treasures of Longmen,” the new episode of the docuseries “Viewing China From Afar” Season III produced by People’s Daily Online West USA Inc. narrates Shakhrukh’s journey into the past.
The Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang, central China’s Henan province, became a man-made landmark during the Northern Wei dynasty of China more than 1,500 years ago. It is one of the three largest grottoes in China along with the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang and Yungang Grottoes in Datong. Longmen Grottoes is the most complex one of the three. Because its excavation lasted 1,400 years, there are still more than 2,100 cave niches, 100,000 statues, and 3,600 inscriptions on steles. Longmen Grottoes ranks first among all the major grottoes in China due to its large quantities of niches, statues and inscriptions.
At the end of 2020, Shakhrukh embarked on a tour of the World Heritage Site led by a local guide named Ping Zhang. Shakhrukh was particularly interested in how the craftsmen at the time used tools to carve thousands of Buddha statues with various poses on the rocks. The work of carving these statues lasted for 1,400 years, which spanned more than a dozen dynasties. More than 100,000 Buddha statues with different aesthetic styles and artistic characteristics of each period have become the “history books of stone” reflecting the history and culture.
The Longmen Grottoes was built near a mountain and river. The scale of the landmark is magnificent. There are 45 main caves in existence, among which the most wonderful carvings are those of the Northern Wei and Tang dynasties. No matter where anyone stands in the grottoes, they can see her smiling at them. There is also a Buddha statue that is particularly eye-catching. This is the trending “peace sign pose” Buddha statue, which is also called the “cutest Buddha statue in history.” The Buddha statue sits on a square platform with its right hand stretched forward. The two fingers held up are like a victory sign “V” so it is called the “Buddha with a peace sign pose.”
How impressive is the Buddha’s “Smile of a Thousand Years”? How was the trending “peace sign pose” Buddha statue formed? With this episode, “Assemblage of Wall Sculptures, the Treasures of Longmen,” Shakhrukh reveals the mystery of the Longmen Grottoes, a historical work that dates back 1,460 years ago.