Binglingsi is located in smaller
Jishi Mountain, 35 kilometers south-west
of Yongjing county in Gansu province. "Bingling"
means "thousand Buddhas" or "ten-thousand
Buddhas" in the Tibetan language. The
Grottoes carved into the cliffs of red sand-stones
at both ends of Dasigou (valley) was first
constructed in the Western Qin Dynasty,
and continuously went on expansion on a
massive scale through the dynasties of Northern
and Western Wei, Northern Zhou, Shui, Tang,
Yuan, Ming, and Qing. The Grottoes consist
of three parts: Shangsi, Donggou, and Xiasi.
Shangsi were ruined by fire and what remained
are only a few statues of Buddhas. In Xiasi,
there are 34 caves and 14 niches still existing.
They contain 694 stone statues, 82 clay
figures, 5 stone carvings and clay pagodas
and 900 square meters of murals. Binglingsi
is one of the ten largest Chinese grottoes.
Cave No.171 houses the largest
Buddhist statue, 27 meters high, with its
upper body carved into the cliff and lower
body made of clay. The statue seated cross-legged
in meditation on a pedestal with the right
hand resting on the lap and the left hand
on the abdomen was sculptured in the 19th
year of Dezong Reign of the Tang Dynasty
(803). Grotto No.169 is the tallest one
carved within a natural cave 8 meters deep,
26 meters wide and 18 meters high, the shape
of which is similar to that of the opposite
mountain rang across the river.
The walls of the grotto are covered with
niches, only 24 of which still exist, enshrining
19 stone statues and 39 clay figures. The
grotto also houses the largest mural in
Binglingsi, which is still bright and beautiful
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