Maijishan is an amazing cave complex in China in Gansu province, 45 km from Tianshui. The complex is famous for the fact that in 194 grottas there are over 7200 sculptures, as well as about 1300 km2 various frescoes.
The name of the mountain translates as "Trump Mountain", and the first caves in it began to appear during the reign of the Late Qin dynasty ( 384 - 417 years ). Maijishan lies at the crossroads: there is a road connecting Xi'an with Dunhuang, Xi'an with Chengdu, and also a road leading to India passes here. Therefore, some sculptures in caves made around the 6th century are similar to sculptures from Indian temples. Prior to this, the artwork was influenced by the culture of northwestern China. Under the rule of the Song and Min dynasties, the caves were repaired and restored, since then the influence of the eastern and central parts of China has been clearly visible.
Presumably, caves used to serve as shrines for worship of various deities, but with the advent of Buddhism in China, caves became part of China's religious architecture ( for example, as Ajanta in India ). In this part of China, Buddhism was spread with the support of North Liang ( 397-439 g ), one of the 16 barbaric states that existed in 304-439. In total, 12 dynasties influenced the construction and restoration of caves: Late Qin, North Wei, West Wei, North Zhou, Sui, Tan, Five Dynasties, Song, Yuan, Min and Qing.
More often than others, Buddha Amitabha is found in the caves of Maijishan, which was especially honored by the Buddhist school of Pure Land. This Buddha accepted anyone who sincerely appealed to him, regardless of origin and position. The Buddha is accompanied by his bodchisattva assistants Avalokiteshvar and Mahasthamapraprat. There are also Buddha Shakyamuni statues, the Bodhisattva Maitrei, depicted in a sitting position, crossing their legs.
Almost all of the sculptures in the grottoes of Maijishan are made of clay with the addition of a binding substance to help preserve the sculpture. In caves 117, 127, 133 and 135, sculptures are usually made of sandstone, and many of them are exquisite. They are not made of local stone and it is still unknown where they were brought from.
Although the region has been the victim of many earthquakes and other natural and man-made disasters, 194 caves have survived to this day, 7200 sculptures can be seen in them, while the height of the highest sculpture reaches 16 meters. All grottoes are excavated at an altitude of 30 to 80 meters above the ground, 54 caves are located on the east side, 140 on the west. In addition to the sculptures, over 2000 ceramic, bronze, iron objects were discovered here, as well as paintings, ancient books, documents and works of calligraphers. Caves are connected only by a wooden path on a rock. Today, Maijishan is a museum, and access to most caves is closed to visitors.