Thousand-Buddha Cliff

Last updated
Relief sculptures on the Thousand-Buddha Cliff Thousand buddha cliff shandong 2006 09 3.jpg
Relief sculptures on the Thousand-Buddha Cliff
Relief sculptures on the Thousand-Buddha Cliff Thousand buddha cliff shandong 2006 09 2.jpg
Relief sculptures on the Thousand-Buddha Cliff

The Thousand-Buddha Cliff (Chinese : ; pinyin : Qiān ) is a historical site of mostly Tang Dynasty rock carvings in central Shandong Province, China. Along a cliff face of 63 meters length, over 210 statues and 43 inscriptions have been reported. [1] Most of the statues were carved during 618–684. [1]



The Thousand-Buddha Cliff is located near Liubu Village, in Licheng District, under the administration of Jinan City, about 33 kilometres southeast of the city of Jinan proper and eight kilometres east of Zhonggong Town. It stands immediately to the west of the site of the former Shentong Temple (Chinese : ; pinyin : Shén tōng , meaning "Supernatural Power" Temple), which is now in ruins. The cliff is oriented in the north–south direction.

Relief sculptures on the Thousand-Buddha Cliff Thousand buddha cliff shandong 2006 09 1.jpg
Relief sculptures on the Thousand-Buddha Cliff

Coordinates: 36°29′23″N117°06′26″E / 36.48972°N 117.10722°E / 36.48972; 117.10722


The first Buddha sculpture is said to have been carved into the cliff by a 70-year-old monk named Sha Dong in the year 619 AD. After a hiatus of 25 years, two more Buddhist sculptures were added by another old monk named Ming De. Because Ming De felt his life was coming to an end at the time, he also donated money towards the carving of additional statues. However, in the year 657 AD he was still alive and continued to carve more statues and inscriptions into the rock face. Because the Tang Dynasty's official policy during the time was to encourage conversion to Taoism, the carving of Buddhist statues implied a political risk. Hence, the inscriptions left by Sha Dong and Ming De point out that the sole purpose of the statues was prayer and not the expression of political opinions. Despite these difficulties, the work of carving the sculptures into the cliff was continued by other Buddhists and eventually the Thousand-Buddha Cliff became the largest collection of Buddhist cliff statues in Shandong.

Besides the Buddhist sculptures, there are also secular statues depicting nobility such as relatives of the emperor, government officials, and famous monks. Among those are statues of Princess Nanping (南平公主), the daughter of Emperor Taizong of Tang and her husband Liu Xuanyi.

See also

Related Research Articles

Longmen Grottoes Cave in Peoples Republic of China

The Longmen Grottoes or Longmen Caves are some of the finest examples of Chinese Buddhist art. Housing tens of thousands of statues of Shakyamuni Buddha and his disciples, they are located 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) south of present-day Luoyang in Henan province, China. The images, many once painted, were carved as outside rock reliefs and inside artificial caves excavated from the limestone cliffs of the Xiangshan (香山) and Longmenshan, running east and west. The Yi River flows northward between them and the area used to be called Yique. The alternative name of "Dragon's Gate Grottoes" derives from the resemblance of the two hills that check the flow of the Yi River to the typical "Chinese gate towers" that once marked the entrance to Luoyang from the south. There are as many as 100,000 statues within the 2,345 caves, ranging from 1 inch (25 mm) to 57 feet (17 m) in height. The area also contains nearly 2,500 stelae and inscriptions, hence the name “Forest of Ancient Stelae", as well as over sixty Buddhist pagodas. Situated in a scenic natural environment, the caves were dug from a 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) stretch of cliff running along both banks of the river. 30% date from the Northern Wei and 60% from the Tang dynasty, caves from other periods accounting for less than 10% of the total. Starting with the Northern Wei Dynasty in 493 AD, patrons and donors included emperors, Wu Zetian, members of the royal family, other rich families, generals, and religious groups.

Dazu Rock Carvings archaeological site

The Dazu Rock Carvings are a series of Chinese religious sculptures and carvings located in Dazu District, Chongqing, China. The carvings date back as far as the 7th century AD, depicting and influenced by Buddhist, Confucian and Taoist beliefs. Some are in rock-cut cave shrines, in the usual Chinese Buddhist style, but many others are rock reliefs carved into the open rock faces.

Bingling Temple Buddhist caves and sculptures in Yongjing County, Gansu, China

The Bingling Temple is a series of grottoes filled with Buddhist sculpture carved into natural caves and caverns in a canyon along the Yellow River. It lies just north of where the Yellow River empties into the Liujiaxia Reservoir. Administratively, the site is in Yongjing County of Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu province, some 100 km (62 mi) southeast of Lanzhou.

Thousand Buddha Mountain

The Thousand Buddha Mountain is a hill located about 2.5 kilometers southeast of the city of Jinan, the capital of Shandong Province, China. It covers 1.518 square kilometers and has a peak of 285 meters above sea level. It is renowned for its numerous Buddha images which have been carved out of the hill's rock faces or free-standing structures erect since the times of the Sui Dynasty (581-618) and its Xingguochan Temple. It is considered as one of the "Three Greatest Attractions in Jinan" together with Baotu Spring and Daming Lake. It is also one of the 4A-rated Tourist attractions in China. Thousand Buddha Mountain is opened up as a public park in 1959, rated as AAAA-rated Tourist Attractions of China in 2005, and rated as National Park of China in March 2017.

Four Gates Pagoda pagoda

The Four Gates Pagoda is a Sui dynasty stone Chinese pagoda located in central Shandong Province, China. It is thought to be the oldest remaining pavilion-style stone pagoda in China. The oldest extant brick-built pagoda in China is the 40-metre-tall (130 ft) Songyue Pagoda of 523 AD.

Dragon-and-Tiger Pagoda

The Dragon-and-Tiger Pagoda is a Tang Dynasty brick and stone pagoda located in central Shandong Province, China. It is considered a characteristic example of the pagoda style of the period.

Guoqing Temple building in Zhejiang, China

The Guoqing Temple is a Buddhist temple on Mount Tiantai, in Taizhou, Zhejiang Province, China. Originally built in 598 during the Sui Dynasty, and renovated during the reign of the Qing Yongzheng Emperor, the temple is located roughly 220 kilometres (140 mi) from the city of Hangzhou. It was the initial site for the creation of the Tiantai school of Mahayana Buddhism, founded by Zhiyi. The temple covers an area of some 23,000 m2 (250,000 sq ft) and features 600 rooms in a total of 14 different halls, including the Grand Hall of Sakyamuni, the Hall of Five Hundred Arhats and the Hall of Monk Jigong. The exterior of the building features Chinese pagodas such as the Sui Pagoda, the Seven Buddha Pagoda, and the Memorial Pagoda of Monk Yi Xing.

Maijishan Grottoes cave in Peoples Republic of China

The Maijishan Grottoes, formerly romanized as Maichishan, are a series of 194 caves cut in the side of the hill of Majishan in Tianshui, Gansu Province, northwest China.

Pizhi Pagoda Pagoda in Shandong, China

The Pizhi Pagoda is an 11th-century Chinese pagoda located at Lingyan Temple, Changqing, near Jinan, Shandong province, China. Although originally built in 753 during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang, the present pagoda is a Song dynasty reconstruction from 1056 until 1063, during the last reigning years of Emperor Renzong of Song. This octagonal-based, nine-story-tall, brick-and-stone pagoda stands at a height of 54 m (177 ft).

Lingyan Temple (Jinan) building in Lingyan Temple, China

Lingyan Temple is a Buddhist temple located in Changqing District, Jinan, Shandong Province, China, about 20 kilometres (12 mi) north of the city of Tai'an. The temple grounds are situated in a valley on the western edge of the Taishan range. The Lingyan Temple has a long recorded history, and was one of the main temples in China during the times of the Tang and Song Dynasties. Its most renowned landmarks are the 11th century Pizhi Pagoda and the Thousand Buddha Hall which houses a Ming dynasty bronze Buddha statue as well as 40 painted clay statues of life-size luohan from the Song dynasty.

Nanchan Temple building in Nanchan Temple (Wutai), China

Nanchan Temple is a Buddhist temple located near the town of Doucun on Wutaishan, Shanxi Province, China. Nanchan Temple was built in 782 during China's Tang dynasty, and its Great Buddha Hall is currently China's oldest preserved timber building extant, as wooden buildings are often prone to fire and various destructions. Not only is Nanchan Temple an important architectural site, but it also contains an original set of artistically-important Tang sculptures dating from the period of its construction. Seventeen sculptures share the hall's interior space with a small stone pagoda.

Qixia Temple Temple in Nanjing, Jiangsu, China

Qixia Temple is a Buddhist temple located on Qixia Mountain in the suburban Qixia District of Nanjing, Jiangsu, 22 kilometres (14 mi) northeast of downtown Nanjing. It is one of Nanjing's most important Buddhist monasteries. The temple is the cradle of East Asian Mādhyamaka.

Nine Pinnacle Pagoda

The Nine Pinnacle Pagoda or Jiuding Pagoda is an 8th-century pavilion-style brick pagoda located in central Shandong Province, China. It is noted for its unique roof design featuring nine small pagodas.

Kaiyuan Temple (Quanzhou) building in Fujian, China

Kaiyuan Temple is a Buddhist temple in West Street, Quanzhou, China, the largest in Fujian province with an area of 78,000 square metres (840,000 sq ft). Although it is known as a "Hindu-Buddhist temple", on account of added Tamil-Hindu influences, the main statue in the most important hall is that of Vairocana Buddha, the main Buddha according to Huayan Buddhism. What is now called the Mahavira Hall is in fact the Vairocana Hall.

A dharani pillar, sutra pillar, or jingchuang is a type of stone pillar engraved with dhāraṇī-sūtras or simple dhāraṇī incantations that is found in China. Dharani pillars were usually erected outside Buddhist temples, and became popular during the Tang dynasty (618–907).

Kaiyuan Temple (Chaozhou) building in Guangdong, China

Kaiyuan Temple is a Buddhist temple located in Xiangqiao District of Chaozhou, Guangdong, China.

Caotang Temple building in Caotang Temple, China

Caotang Temple is a Buddhist temple located on the north hillside of Mount Guifeng, in Huyi District of Xi'an, Shaanxi, China.

Lingguang Temple (Beijing) Buddhist temple in Beijing, China

Lingguang Temple is a Buddhist temple located on the east hillside of Mount Cuiwei (翠微山), in the Shijingshan District of Beijing. The temple is renowned for its collection of the tooth relic of the Buddha.

Xingguo Temple (Jinan) building in Zhangqiu District, China

Xingguo Temple is a Buddhist temple located in Zhangqiu District of Jinan, Shandong.


  1. 1 2 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-02-03. Retrieved 2007-02-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)