Dazu, located in the west suburb of Chongqing City, is famous worldwide as the Home of Rock Carving. It is a wonderful land. Dazu Rock Carvings is 160 kilometers to the west of Chongqing. Over 60,000 carved stone figures relating mainly to Buddhism are spread around 76 places in Dazu. The content and craftsmanship of Rock Carvings at Beishan Hill and Baodingshan Hill are the best. The art of Dazu, which emerged in the late Tang Dynasty (618- 907) and flourished in the Song Dynasty (960-1127), represents an important chapter in China cultural and religious history.
Cliff-side stone carving on Baodingshan hill, 15 kilometers northeast of the seat of Dazu County, were first constructed in the Southern Song Dynasty (1179). With Dafowan as the center, there are stone statuses in the surrounding areas. Those in Dafowan are the largest and best preserved, with the highest artistic value. The other famous stone carving on Beishan hill, 1.5 kilometers north of Dazu, were carved from the late Tang Dynasty to the Southern Song Dynasty (892-1162). There are nearly 10,000 fine carved images.
The Dazu rock carvings has made a significant contribution to artistic expression in China, taking into account a new realism and exaggeration in depicting the contrasts between good and evil, beauty and ugliness. In their contents the carved scenes reflect the moral and rationalistic call for the punishment of evildoers, while encouraging people to do good, to control their desires, and the regulate their behavior. Their layouts demonstrate an ingenious integration of art, religion, science and nature. Aesthetically they are mysterious, natural, elegant, and fully reflecting traditional Chinese culture, which emphasizes learning from the past.
The carvings were listed as a World Heritage Site in 1999, citing “…their aesthetic quality, their rich diversity of subject matter, both secular and religious, and the light that they shed on everyday life in China during this period. They provide outstanding evidence of the harmonious synthesis of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.”
Dazu Rock Carvings is the general name of the 102 cliffside sculptures and rock carvings in Dazu County. The most famous Rock Carvings in Dazu include Baodingshan Rock Carvings, Beishan Rock Carvings, Nanshan Rock Carvings, Shimenshan Rock Carvings, Shizhuanshan Rock Carvings, etc.
Baodingshan Rock Carving
Baodingshan Mountain is located 15 km away from northeast of Dazu County, Chongqing. The Baodingshan Rock Carving was carved during 1174 – 1252, designed and organized by Zhao Zhifeng, a famous monk. The construction lasted over 70 years. It is a large Buddhist tantric dojo and also the essence of Dazu Rock Carving. Shengshou Temple is grand and majestic. It was originally built by Zhao Zhifeng in South Song Dynasty. Later it was burnt by Yuan and Ming armies. During Ming and Qing Dynasty, it was renovated and now the Shanmen, Hall of Heavenly Kings, Sakra Hall, Mahavira Hall, Buddhas of Three Periods, Rangdeng Hall and Vimalakirti Hall are rebuilt in Qing Dynasty. Baodingshan Rock Carving is rare large gorges of Esoteric Buddhism. Dafo Bay is the outside the dojo for preaching Buddhism to the majority of secular beings. The Xiaofo Bay is the cortile for believers to cultivate themselves according to Buddhism. Baodingshan’s rock carving is unique with special pattern. Among the thousands statues of Dafo Bay, the themes of the statues are never repeat. Each cave has connection in religious doctrine, as well as patterns, and forming a whole. The statues start with Liuquweixin, and end with Buddha Liu’s Statue. The rock carving also tells philosophy of Buddhism, showing the Buddhism characteristics of Song Dynasty.