Grotto with 500-year-old Buddhist statues found in Hebei province

(ORDO NEWS) — A cave grotto with 20 Buddha statues dating back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) has been discovered in Shahe City, northern China’s Hebei Province, the local cultural relics protection agency said.

The grotto, built in 1503, is located on a hillside south of Beipengshui village at an altitude of 1,200 meters above sea level.

It is 5.8 meters wide and 2.8 meters high. Here, on rectangular stone bases, there are 20 Buddhist statues made of bluish-gray stone with various postures and facial expressions.

On the rock on the western side of the entrance to the cave, a stele 2 meters high and 0.69 meters wide with an inscription was found carved into the rock.

According to Han Zhigang, director of the city’s institute for the protection of cultural monuments, the inscription on the rock stele says that the ancestors of one family moved here from another village to prune trees, cultivate fields in the mountainous area and build Buddhist statues.

The text captures a rare historical scene about the cultivation of virgin lands and the founding of a village, which is of great historical value for studying the conditions of the area, the life of the population and social production in Shahe during the Ming Dynasty.

This grotto is relatively well preserved and is an important object for studying the local grotto culture, said Han Zhigang.

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