The carved statues at Baodingshan reflect the 3 religious traditions found in China at the time they were created; Daoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. The statues survived the Cultural Revolution because of isolation and the involvement of Chou Enlai,a native of the area.
The images carved in stone across the Dazu area amount to 60,000 different statues. Most were started in the Song dynasty and it took over 70 years to complete them. Their remote locations protected them from Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution. A road in was not completed until the 1990’s.
This beautiful figure represents the traditional Chinese goddess of mercy, Guan Yin. The face is so serene and the carving is so skilled that her face almost looks soft even though it is carved out of stone.
This scene shows Buddhist and Confucian images together. In China, you do not practice one religion but can practice all 3 of the main ones simultaneously. This idea was and is very hard for westerners to understand.
Baodingshan Grotto contained dynamic art from the Tang dynasty. Our guide Jeff, explained that for the artists creating these statues was an act of worship. Chinese religious practice is very different from western tradition but the beauty of the images crosses cultural lines. These statues are priceless partly because so much of China’s history was destroyed in the Cultural Revolution. They value what is left and work to protect it.