Yungang Grottoes is one of the largest ancient grotto groups of China. It is located at Wuzhou Mountain, west of Datong of Shanxi Province. Yungang Grottoes is a stone carving treasure that is renowned all around the world. In 2001, it is listed as one of the World Cultural Heritage Sites.
Yungang Grottoes was firstly cut in 453A.D. Most of the stone carvings in the grottoes were completed in 494A.D. And the statue making project was lasted to around 520A.D. to 525A.D. The grottoes are rich in contents. Now, there are 45 main caves, 252 niches (for a statue of Buddha) of different sizes and more than 51,000 stone statues in which the largest one is as high as 17 meters while the small ones are only several centimeters in height. The statues of Bodhisattvas, flying fairies in the grottoes are very vivid and the carving on the pillars is also both delicate and exquisite. According to the time of cutting, these grottoes can be divided into the early, middle and late stages. The early statues are characterized by vigorous and unsophisticated customs of the Western Region while the grottoes of the middle stage are delicate and luxurious, showing complicated and changing artistic styles. The Chinese palace building carvings and the Chinese style niche evolved on this foundation were all widely used in the construction of grotto temples in later times. Although the scale of the grottoes of the late stage was reduced, the proportion of characters was appropriate. They are the example of the grotto art of northern China. The arrangement and decoration of the grottoes predominantly demonstrates the style of Chinese buildings. In addition, the dance with accompaniment, Baixi (recreational activities of the masses) and acrobatics carvings left in the grottoes all reflect the characters of the ideas of Buddhism in different dynasties and the social life in these times.
The trend of popularization, secularization and nationalization of the daily life of Buddhist monks and nuns is an important aspect for Buddhism to localize in China. Yungang Grottoes collectively reflect these historical characters.