The Yungang Grottoes: Bridging Weight and Grace

Yungang Caves

There are three great Buddhist cave complexes in China: those at Yungang, Dunhuang and Longmen. The earliest of these is the one begun at Yungang in 460AD, which took 64 years to complete.

In a 1km long complex, there are 252 shrines containing approx. 51,000 statues. In terms of sculpture the influence of the Gandhāra artistic tradition is still clear.

This film by Chinese Central Television looks not only at the artistic heritage at the caves, but also throws light on the engineering employed in these massive structures, and how they were built to last for a long time.

With the help of computer graphics the documentary demonstrates how such features as the domed roof, the Pagoda Pillar and even modelled sculpture supports were all used to support the massive weights and large spaces that were employed in the building.

[Note that there is a short and rather curious introduction about European sculpture, but it soon moves on to its subject]

There is an accompanying article here:
World Cultural heritage: Yungang Grottoes

 

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