Tianlong Mountain Grottoes, known as the "Treasure of Oriental Sculpture Art", are located on the mountainside of Tianlong Mountain 40 kilometers southwest of Taiyuan City, Shanxi province. The grotto is off-white sandstone, easy to carve and easy to weatherize. It has 24 caves excavated in the Eastern Wei Dynasty, Northern Qi, Sui and Tang Dynasties. Totally, there are 8 Dongfeng caves, 13 Xifeng caves, and 3 Shanbei caves. There are more than 1,500 statues in the existing grottoes, 1144 reliefs, algae wells and portraits. The excavation dates of the caves vary, with the Tang Dynasty having the most, reaching the fifteen caves.
The earliest excavators of the grottoes were Gao Huan, the prime minister of the Eastern Wei Dynasty, namely caves 2 and 3 of Dongfeng; his son Gaoyang excavated cave 3, namely cave 1 of Dongfeng and cave 10 and 16 of Xifeng; Emperor Sui Yang excavated Dongfeng cave No. 8, Yu excavated 18 caves for the Tang Dynasty. It spans four dynasties and lasts for more than 400 years. It reflects the different styles and artistic achievements of each period, but has a traditional relationship that is connected in a line.
Unlike the tall and magnificent Yungang and Longmen Grottoes, Tianlong Mountain Grottoes are famous for their skillful shapes, appropriate proportions, soft lines and exquisite carvings.
The proportion of stone carvings in the Eastern Wei Dynasty is moderate, with realistic images and a strong atmosphere of life. The statues of the Tang Dynasty are more rigorous, refined and superb. The stone sculptures are vivid in posture, beautiful in posture, smooth and refined with the knife technique, and have a rich texture. The sitting statue of the Maitreya Buddha in the Manshan Pavilion of Cave Nine is about 8 meters high, with a harmonious proportion and dignified appearance; the lower Guanyin statue, about 11 meters high, is fully bodied and is a fine work of stone carving.
The statue of Tianlong Mountain Grottoes is called "Tianlong Mountain Style". It provides rich physical information for future generations to study Buddhism, fine art, sculpture, and architecture, and is a brilliant pearl in the sculpture art of ancient Chinese grottoes. After thousands of years, it still inherits Chinese culture in the wind, frost, rain and snow, and also plays an extremely important role in the history of world sculpture art.
Unfortunately, in the 1920s, the Tianlong Mountain Grottoes were destroyed by incredible theft, and a large number of fine products were lost abroad.
In 1918, the Japanese Guan Yezhen rediscovered the Tianlong Mountain Grottoes and published the investigation report in the Japanese magazine "Guo Hua". As soon as this report came out, it caused a sensation in the world, and it also triggered large-scale stealing activities. Hundreds of fine statues of Tianlongshan Grottoes were shipped overseas.
From 1924 to 1925, Chinese and foreign thieves plundered and destroyed the grottoes. The Tianlong Mountain grottoes, which took four hundred years to dig, have since become headless grottoes. They are the most devastated and damaged caves in China.
In 1948, Tianlong Mountain Temple was destroyed by fire again, and the unmanaged Tianlong Mountain Grottoes were more quickly damaged by natural disasters. It was not until 1982 that the protection, restoration and maintenance of the Tianlong Mountain Grottoes began.
In June 2001, Tianlong Mountain Grottoes were approved by the State Council to be included in the fifth batch of national key cultural relics protection units to better protect and promote this precious heritage of history and art.
Digsur is fortunate to participate in the digital restoration project of Tianlong Mountain Grotto Statues. We obtained the three-dimensional spatial data of Buddha's head from abroad through multiple channels, and uses the three-dimensional laser scanning technology to collect the spatial information of the existing Buddha's body.
Based on the related news report, historical materials, existing old photos, construction drawings, videos, in accordance with experts’ opinions, and the template of intact Buddha statues with similar shapes and techniques in the same period, Digsur matched the heads and the bodies through digital technologies and copied the lost part models according to the same proportion to realize actual restoration.
Digsur reproduced the art of the Tianlong Mountain Grottoes through virtual restoration technology, returns the centuries-old soul of the statue to Jinyang, and reproduces the disaster-stricken Tianlong Mountain Grottoes.