Dazu Stone Carvings, Chongqing (大足石刻,重庆市)

Dazu Stone Carvings are located in the country of Dazu in Chongqing municipality, about 120 km away from the city center of Chongqing. The carving work began in late Tang Dynasty and saw its hey day in the Song Dynasty. There are over 60,000 statues altogether and they are in 40 places of Dazu County. The statues on Mount Baoding and Mount Longgan (namely, Beishan Mountain ) boast the most centralized collection ,the largest scale and the most exquisite craftsmanship of all the places. In 1961 this area was listed by the State Council as one of the first cultural heritage places under state protection. Then in 1999, UNESCO listed it as world cultural heritage.

14 km away from Dazu County, stone carving on Mount Baoding were created from 1179 to 1249, in the reigns of Emperor Chunxi to Emperor Chunyou in the South Song Dynasty. The person in charge was Zhao Zhifeng, who was born in Xueliang town of Dazu County, several km away from Mount Baoding. He became a monk when he was five and moved to the western part of Sichuan Province to learn Buddhism when he was 16. Then he returned home and had the Buddhism “Daochang” built under his care. (Buddhism ‘Daochang’ refers to the place where the Buddhist doctrine is publicized with images.)

He dedicated his following 70 years to this course until he passed away at the age of 90, when the forest of statues was completed at a preliminary level. The Buddha Bay we see now is the major part of the stone carvings on Mount Baoding. This Buddhism ‘Daochan’ also includes 12 other places and extends an extra 2.5 km. The total number of the statues is over 10,000 and some of them are titanic, imposing with various dimensions. Since the planning was unified and the craftsmanship was consummate, there are few similarities between the statues. Moreover, the statues are each in connection with each other and are each in accordance with the Buddhism doctrine. Almost the entire creed of this religion is included in one generation and thus a Buddhism Daochang with a comprehensive, rigid creed and special traditions was formed. This is the only Buddhism Daochang that houses a huge stone carving in China.

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