Buddist Cave Chapels

In: Religion Topics

Submitted By Lrthomps
Words 1479
Pages 6
Landon Thompson

EALC 145

Professor Cheung

9 April 2010

Buddhism and Buddhist Characteristics of the Cave Chapels

Along with Confucianism and Taoism, Buddhism is among China’s most influential religions throughout its history. Buddhism taught the Chinese to believe in the Four Noble Truths and to follow the Eightfold Path to achieve nirvana, or a state of complete understanding with the world. Buddhism’s influences stretched to all regions of the country; it became influential enough that Emperors even commissioned cave chapels to be dedicated to Buddhism and the Buddha. The cave chapels of Yungang, Longmen, and Dunhuang, although each different, are the most famous of the cave chapels and best capture the different styles and characteristics that were used throughout that time period. The Yungang caves in the Shangxi province of China are a series of caves, mostly carved into the cliffs. The Five caves of Tanyao are the most famous caved chapels in the Yingang area. Although they are each unique in their own matter, the five caves collectively are dedicated to the five previous Tabgatch rulers (Thorpe 164). The Five Caves of Tanyao (Caves 16-20), reflect the faith in a phase of reliance on lavish imperial patronage. The history of Wei, or Weishu, records that Fa Guo, the Administrator of Monks, required monks to pay homage to the emperor, declaring "the person who has the ability to advocate Buddhist faith is our sovereign. I am not paying homage to the Emperor but to Buddha" (Karetzky 145). The Five Caves of Tanyao were executed at a time when worshipping Buddha was conceived as being tantamount to worshipping the Emperor. The colossi of Buddhist images inside these caves represent the previous five Tabgatch Emperors. The main images in these five caves are huge figures of Buddha, each dominating the whole cave. These five…...

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