Friday, May 02, 2008

Day 7 – Longman Caves

Buddhism was introduced to
China at around 68 AND from Afghanistan. There’s reckoned to be 100,000 statues of the Buddha at the Longman caves which have been carved over many centuries in differing styles. The statues are set back in large caves or carved niches, some with hundreds of tiny relief carvings of the Buddha. The Tang standard of beauty was set by a rather plump concubine, and this is reflected in the plumpness of images from this period. Others float on lotus pedestals. The glory of the spectacle is the huge final Buddha, whose expression is truly calm in the face of a hive of babbling visitors and photographers.

No one seemed really interested in either art or religion. Guides bellowed from megaphones. Swarms of Chinese visitors were laughing, strolling, and above all, taking pictures. This is as much an obsession with the Chinese, as with the Japanese. There must be some cultural reason for this – perhaps capturing family images as part of ancestor traditions, as most of the pictures were of the ‘me in front of X’ variety.

We then had a long bus journey to Xian.


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