Dazu Rock Carvings

The ancient Dazu Rock Carvings understandably get a lot of attention. Found in the Dazu area some 35 miles west of the Chinese city of Chongqing, they are a collection of centuries-old carvings and statues that are influenced by Buddhist, Confucian, and Taoist beliefs. More than anything else, they might be best known for their undeniably high aesthetic qualities and for being what many experts believe to be the absolute epitome of Chinese rock art.

Dazu Rock Carvings
Dazu Rock Carvings

Some of the rock carvings that can be found in Dazu County date as far back as the seventh century AD. That being said, the main rock carving period in this Chinese region got its start in the ninth century. The immaculate Dazu Rock Carvings themselves date from the ninth century to the thirteenth century. Their age partly explains why UNESCO deemed them to be worthy of a World Heritage Site designation in 1999, and nowhere else might you expect to find a more harmonious mix of Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian elements.

The Dazu Rock Carvings are found on steep hillsides. Until the year 1975, they could only be reached by an oft-muddy path. Both of these aspects help to explain how the carvings escaped mass destruction during the anti-religious vandalism that coincided with China’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). Also worth noting is the fact that the Dazu Rock Carvings were basically off limits to visitors for a considerable period of time. Eventually in 1961, Chinese citizens were allowed to visit the 75 different carving sites, though it wasn’t until 1980 that they were opened to foreign visitors. Thankfully, the Dazu Rock Carvings remain open to all visitors, and there is no denying that they figure among the very best China tourist attractions.

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