Rock Paintings of Besides (World Heritage)

The rock carvings date from the 9th to 13th centuries and are located northwest of Chongqing. The pictures give an insight into people’s everyday life and are a harmonious combination of Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism.

Rock Art by Also: Facts

Official title: Rock art by Also
Cultural monument: originally more than 10,000 painted rock sculptures at Bei Shan, today 290 Buddhist sculpture niches, among others. with Puxian, the patron saint of Emei Shan, and the “wheel of the universe”; originally more than 15,000 painted rock sculptures in 19 groups on the horseshoe-shaped Baoding Shan, including the »Thousand-armed Deity of Mercy« and the 31 m long and more than 5 m high »Sleeping Buddha« as well as 264 shrines over a length of 500 m
Continent: Asia
Country: China, Sichuan
Location: at the foot of the Baoding Shan and Bei Shan near Besides, northwest of Chongqing
Appointment: 1999
Meaning: an outstanding series of rock sculptures and frescoes from the 9th to 13th centuries of high aesthetics; Expression of the harmonious synthesis of Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism

Rock Art by Also: History

618-907 Tang Dynasty
892 Beginning of the production of the rock sculptures on Bei Shan
960-1279 Song dynasty
1174-1239 Making the sculptures at Baoding Shan
1961 placed under monument protection

Grace in stone

The eyes are closed, a faint, barely perceptible smile sits in the corners of the mouth. An expression of gentle soulfulness characterizes the facial features, the soft lines of which were carved out of hard rock hundreds of years ago. People have to look up to this stony face, because the “Sleeping Buddha from Schatzgipfelberg” in Zu has colossal dimensions: more than five meters high and 31 meters long. The fact that the sleeping giant is by no means threatening, but rather comforting and calming, suggests the skill of the stonemasons who created thousands of sculptures towards the end of the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries.

A total of over 40,000 Buddhist-inspired figures have been found in 43 locations in the vicinity of the rural community. The resting Buddha entering nirvana is just one of the many attractions that can be visited, in addition to the “Treasure Summit Mountain” (Baoding Shan), and especially the “North Mountain” (Bei Shan). The stonemasonry of the “Nordberg”, which rises two kilometers outside the district town, is even older than that of the “Schatzgipfelberg”. As early as the end of the ninth century, the commander of a military camp, which was maintained here by the rulers of the Tang dynasty, ordered religious art to be formed from the bare rocks. For two and a half centuries, the »Nordberg« was chiseled and painted. There are 290 niches and grottos with thousands of large and small sculptures, whose grace and elegance still touch today. Especially the figures created in the twelfth century are expressive and individually designed. That grotto, which is designated as “number 136”, is considered to be the most important example of this kind of creative piety. Buddha, the enlightened one, sits here, five feet high, in the pose of the teacher. But above all, the niche is a world of the Bodhisattvas, those beings who delay the step towards ultimate perfection in order to be able to devote themselves to the sufferings of human beings. Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, venerated in China as Guanyin, Goddess of Mercy, is represented with six arms and carries the moon in one of her many hands and the sun in another. A grandiose Guanyin was also created by those artists which are immortalized in the 500 meter long and up to 30 meter high “rock niche gallery” of the “Schatzgipfelberg”. The gilded enlightenment being equipped with a thousand differently shaped hands is carved into a rock field of almost a hundred square meters. Alongside the monumental Buddha, this impressive figure on Baoding Shan is the most photographed. The mountain is 15 kilometers from the town of Additionally, and after Emei Shan it is probably the most important Buddhist place in Sichuan, both spiritually and culturally.

The way to the “cliff art” leads through green hills with rice terraces nestling against them; In fish ponds, teams of oxen are reflected as they plow their furrows through fields. According to ezinereligion, this is a piece of archaic, rural China that can also be found in the rock niches on the »Schatzgipfelberg«. In addition to religious scenes, the stonemasons have also carved realistically and finely chiseled scenes from everyday rural life out of the stone: the “buffalo herders” for example or “the woman who feeds the chickens”.

What also gives the representations cultural and historical value is the interaction of those spiritual forces that shape the gigantic empire to this day: In addition to Buddhist elements, the Baoding Shan artists also woven elements of Daoist philosophy and Confucian ethics into their stone “carpet of scenes”: This is how Buddha carries the coffin of his father, proving that he has not forgotten the Confucian requirement to look after his parents, despite his struggle for enlightenment.

Rock Paintings of Besides

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