Baodingshan, Dazu, Chongqing
(June 17, 2012)

(1) One of the first things I saw on the path in to the Baodingshan Grottoes, and much better-executed than some of the hundreds of carvings I saw later. I shot over 600 photos here. I tried to control myself in posting, but I hope you'll enjoy the many shots I included in this album.

(2) In the "Cave of Full Enlightenment." The figure with its back to us is worshiping the others.

(3) These two happy guys will be taming that ox later (part of an extended allegory where the ox represents the mind).

(4) Here's Mara holding the Wheel of Life, with six sections representing the six levels at which we might be reborn (depending on the karma we generate). It's a common motif in Tibetan art.

(5) Some of the Nine Guardians of the place.

(6) This triad is noted for the pagoda being held up in the foreground. I've read estimates of 500kg or more for that pagoda; the drapery "hanging" from the bodhisattva's arm is said to be the secret of sustaining its weight for a thousand years.

(7) Either three scholars, or the same scholar at three ages, meditating in a bamboo grove. It may represent Liu Benzun, a major figure in the history (and sometimes the iconography) of the grottoes.

(8) The Buddha entering Nirvana, with various figures paying homage. It is noted that only his top half is shown, leaving the rest to the viewers' imaginations.

(9) A closer view of the Buddha's face as he enters Nirvana.

(10) At the other end of his life: Nine dragons bathe the new-born baby Buddha.

(11) This is Mahamayuri, one of the Five Wisdom Kings who is sometimes called "The Peacock King."

(12) My favorite Buddha, the Great Sun Buddha, in a cave of his own.

(13) I know they're supposed to be some of the Judges of Hell, but they look like game show contestants to me.

(14) In the Hells scenario, this is the Knee-Chopping demon. No joke, he's scary enough without the cleaver.

(15) Several of these creepy little guys were popping out of lotuses in one grotto.

(16) This is really interesting. The main figure has a sleeping monkey in his lap, representing the mind. Underneath him are six tethered animals representing the six senses, all under control. According to one reading they are, from top right, going clockwise: a dog (sight); a crow (hearing); a snake (smell); a fox? (taste); a fish (touch); and a horse (passion).

(17) This unmarked pagoda is on the cliff above the carvings, near Shengshou Temple (inside the Baodingshan complex).

(18) Another unnamed pagoda near Shengshou Temple.

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Last Updated August 13, 2019

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