Anyue Stone Carvings
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Anyue Stone Carvings
Anyue Stone Carvings

Anyue is the hometown of the stone carvings art with the stone statues, around 220 stone carvings and nearly 1,300 carved cave niches and over 100,000 big and small statues, scattered in a scope of 120sq.km centered by the downtown of Anyue. All the statues are notably characterized by their immense scale, elaborate sculpting, fine carvings and long history. 
Originating from the eras of South and North Dynasty Period (around 521A.D.) and flourishing in the Tang Dynasty, the Five Dynasties, and the Song Dynasty, Anyue Stone Carvings have had a history of 1,300 years. These stone statues are the works in the periods of the matured and flourishing stone carving art and have high carving artistic value. The styles of the statues, except a handful of simple and straightforward styled ones embodying the styles of the Wei and Jin Dynasties, mainly are of plump-postured, natural and graceful styles of the glorious Tang Dynasty. Some of them are also featured with fineness and gaudiness in the Song Dynasty. Among them there are some Anyue people’s original creation. Depending on their own craftsmanship, wonderful skills, and their observing and understanding of life, Anyue people have many innovative breakthroughs in stone carving art and Anyue stone carvings, which can be highly spoken as the treasure of our national stone carving art.
These stone carvings are classic, elaborate, beautiful with large amount, enjoying an important role as “inherited from stone carvings in Dunhuang, Yungang and Longmen and enlightening the Dazu Stone Carvings” in the Chinese stone carving art. Named “Hometown of Chinese folk art (stone carving art)” by the National Department of Culture on Sep 18th, 2000, the stone carvings - “Another great treasury in the ancient Chinese stone carvings”, is the unique and the most valuable stone carving resource in the Sichuan Basin. 
The statues are of unique styles. Anyue Stone Carvings originated in the second year of Liang Wu Emperor of the eras of South and North Dynasty (521 A.D.) and became flourishing in the Tang Dynasty, the Five Dynasties and the Northern Song Dynasty. The stone carvings are mainly Buddhist statues and accompanied with Taoism statues and other religious arts, among which there are mainly stone carving statue groups and some single statues. Besides the Buddha images, the statues also reflect the realities and the worldly life in the ancient societies of China from different angles. The carvings are fine and daedal skilled showing originality which seems as if from the hands of god. Particularly the pierced carving skill shows the transcendent artistic charm of the ancient statues and is praised as “a bright pearl in the history of world sculpture”. The ancient craftsmen integrated the principles of optics, mechanics and aesthetics, and selected the materials in the worldly life, which leaves many artistic works full of physical and humanistic beauty. In recent years, whether the professionals from Britain, France and Japan, or scholars from the U S, India and Belgium or tourists from abroad and at home, have given high evaluation to the fancy stone carving art. Famous British writer Han Su-yin paid a special visit to the stone carvings and highly praised the stone carving art again and again:” I have been to many countries and visited many stone carvings, but it is the first time that I saw such beautiful ones of surpassing brilliance. It’s fantastic and meaningful! ”. She also called the Zizhu Kwan-yin as “Eastern Venus”.
Lying Buddha Statues in the Lying Buddha Court in Anyue are the most complete and beautiful stone cave statues of the glorious Tang Dynasty existing present in China and the largest head-to-foot nearside Lying Buddha in the nation. It is 400 years earlier than the Baoding Lying Buddha in Dazu County. The stone scriptures with over 400,000 characters in the Lying Buddha Court are the earliest scripture translation editions from Xuan Zang and can fairly claim to the national treasure. In 1998, the State Department of China publicized the Lying Buddha Court as the Key Cultural Relic under National-level Protection.
Pilu Cave, with totally 446 stone cave statues, is the Key Cultural Relic under National-level Protection, locating at the Tazi Mountain, Shiyang Town, 50 km to the southeast county seat. The stone carvings in the Pilu Cave are the crystallization of the Song Dynasty Buddhist art with high values of historical research and tourist sightseeing. Two stone carvings are particularly precious. One is the Liu Benzun’s Portrait of “Ten Cultivation Tempering ”with excellent pictures and essays in which Liu Benzun’s tempering and the Yin cultivation shown in the middle and the mighty Heaven-god and Jingang(Buddha’s warrior attendants) holding axe and blade in each side. It is the rare historical materials for the research of the Mi-Doctrines in Sichuan and Liu Benzun himself. This place was the main field of the Mi-doctrine of Buddhism in Sichuan from the Five Dynasties to the Northern Song Dynasty. The other is the Zizhu Kwan-yin statue. With tender and elegant appearance and romantic manner, the worldly-style Kwan-yin is a rare stone statue treasure all over the country.   
The Yuanjue Cave is nearest to the county with 1993 stone carvings. The sculptures are all works of the Northern Song Dynasty. The cave is named after the 12 Yuanjue statues. In the cave there are five gods flying in the sky and the colored ribbons they are wearing always make the visitors feel that“ the clothes of the God is flying, the walls are moving in the wind” and be intoxicated bythe Flying Asperas dancing lightly and elegantly. On the left side of the cave is the Jingping Kwan-yin and on the right side, the Amitbha and the Dashizhi Bodhisattva, both with the height of seven meters. The almond eyes of the Kwan-yin show a shy and coy expression. Her face slightly turns to the side and her accessories like crown and jade-like stones are graceful and elegant. Different from the common observe standing Buddha statues, the Dashizhi Bodhisattva is holding a lotus buds weighing tens of kilograms but never fell down in thousands of years. This is because the craftsman pierced the hands and the buds, and the branches of the lotus flowers successfully delivered the weight of the buds and branches to the cassock. It is “different in approach but equally satisfactory in result” with the Three Divine Physicians Holding the Stone Pagoda in the Baoding Mountain in Dazu. What a gifted artistic designing!
The Scripture Cave (Cang Jing Dong) is another famous cultural relic. There are 55 scriptures niche holes cut along the 800-meter-long cliff from the south to the north of the Lying Buddha Valley, among which there are 43 in rudiment or completed and one empty scripture hole. There are 15 holes with carved scriptures reserved well. The area of the carved Buddhist scriptures is 152 square meters with clearly recognizable ones over 70 parts in over 20 kinds, over 300 volumes and over 400,000 characters. The number of the niche holes with carved Buddhist scriptures of the Tang Dynasty is 16.
The scriptures were carved on the obverse and both sides, among which there are over 20 scriptures like Sutra of Heavy Kindness of Parents appreciated by Buddha and etc. and the Sutra of Tan San Zang is the only existing version in the Buddhist scripture. It became popular to carve the Buddhist scriptures in the Northern Song Dynasty and in the Tang Dynasty writing scriptures was prosperous. The carved Buddhist scriptures in the Lying Buddha Court in Anyue are rare and unusual in the country. Scholars and specialists highly praised the scriptures in Anyue Lying Buddha Court as national treasure. The famous scriptures in Fangshanju Temple of Beijing and the scriptures in Lingyan Mountain of Guanxian County in Sichuan were both carved on the flagstones, but the Anyue scriptures were carved in a cut hole, which are unprecedented, one and the only. Sutra of the Heart of Prajnaparamita, etc. are the earliest translations by Xuanzang group.  The stone scripture carving in the Lying Buddha Court was engraved in the glorious Tang Dynasty, which can be verified by the characters on the carving” the second month of the fifteenth year of the Kaiyuan era of the Tang Dynasty” (728A.D.) - the earliest found scriptures at present. And the other inscriptions like “the 17th year of Kaiyuan era of the Tang Dynasty”, “the 21st year of the Kaiyuan era of the Tang Dynasty”, “the 15th year of the Kaiyuan era of the Tang Dynasty” also show that scripture carving had been a huge and long-lasting project.

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