The Northern Caves
The Northern Caves lie at the confluence of the Ruhe and Puhe rivers about 25 kilometers southeast of the city of Xifeng in Cingyang Prefecture. Carving of the caves began in 509 by order of Xi Kangsheng, governor of Jingzhou Prefecture. They are sister caves of the Southern Caves in Jingchuan. Hewn in a reddish sandstone cliff about 12 meters long and 20 meters high are 295 Buddhist caves dating from the Northern Wei, Western Wei, Northern Zhou, Sui, Tang, Song, and Qing dynasties.
They contain 2,125 statues and are considered the best Buddhist caves in eastern Gansu. Among the caves, Cave No. 165 is the largest and one of the oldest. It covers an area of 340 square meters and enshrines seven 8-meter-high standing statues in the middle. A fine example of the Tang caves is perhaps Cave No. 32, which was carved in 692 during the reign of Empress Wu Zetian. The statues in it have plump faces with finely chiseled features. Handsome and lifelike, they are regarded as fine works of art from the Tang period.
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