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Mon Jun 15, 2020, 03:02 AM

3D printing brings ancient Yungang Grottoes to world

11:24 UTC+8, 2020-06-15

With 3D printing and high-fidelity digital technologies, the immovable Yungang Grottoes, the 1,500-year-old masterpieces of Chinese Buddhist art, took its first step out into the wider world.

The world's first mobile 3D-printed 1:1 replica cave of the Yungang Grottoes made its debut Friday at the Museum of Art and Archaeology in east China's Zhejiang Province. It was open to global visitors both offline and online.

"Entering the replica cave is like being in cave No. 12 of the Yungang Grottoes that stands more than 1,500 km away from here," said Lu Jiwen, deputy director of the Yungang Grottoes Research Institute.

Cave No. 12, also known as the Music Cave, was carved in the fifth century, with rich images of heavenly figures and musical instruments from home and abroad. These figures represented the earliest royal symphony orchestra in ancient China and played a vital role in the history of Chinese music and dance.


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The Yungang Grottoes, formerly the Wuzhoushan Grottoes, are ancient Chinese Buddhist temple grottoes near the city of Datong in the province of Shanxi. They are excellent examples of rock-cut architecture and one of the three most famous ancient Buddhist sculptural sites of China. The others are Longmen and Mogao.

The site is located about 16 km west of the city of Datong, in the valley of the Shi Li river at the base of the Wuzhou Shan mountains. They are an outstanding example of the Chinese stone carvings from the 5th and 6th centuries. There are 53 major caves, along with 51,000 niches housing the same number of Buddha statues. Additionally, there are around 1,100 minor caves. A Ming Dynasty-era fort is still located on top of the cliff housing the Yungang Grottoes.[1]

The grottoes were excavated in the south face of a sandstone cliff about 2600 feet long and 30 to 60 feet high. In 2001, the Yungang Grottoes were made a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Yungang Grottoes are considered by UNESCO to be a "masterpiece of early Chinese Buddhist cave art... [and] ...represent the successful fusion of Buddhist religious symbolic art from south and central Asia with Chinese cultural traditions, starting in the 5th century CE under Imperial auspices."[2] It is classified as a AAAAA scenic area by the China National Tourism Administration.[3]


Buddhist paintings in the Yungang Grottoes

Many more images:


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