The Longmen Grottoes are located 12 km south of present day Luoyang in Henan province. The grottoes, which overwhelmingly depict Buddhist subjects, are densely dotted along the two mountains Xiangshan (to the east) and Longmenshan (to the west). The Yi River flows northward between them. For this reason, the area used to be called Yique (The Gate of the Yi River). From north to south, the distance covered by grottoes is about 1 km. Along with Mogao and Yungang, the Longmen Grottoes are one of the three most famous ancient sculptural sites in China.
According to the Longmen Caves Research Institute, there are 2345 caves and niches, 2800 inscriptions, 43 pagodas and over 100,000 Buddhist images at the site. 30% of the caves date from the Northern Wei Dynasty, 60% from the Tang Dynasty, and caves from other periods less than 10%.
A world heritage site named in 2000, the Grotto was judged by 3 criteria: The sculptures of the Longmen Grottoes are an outstanding manifestation of human artistic creativity.
The Longmen Grottoes illustrate the perfection of a long-established art form, which was to play a highly significant role in the cultural evolution of this region of Asia.
The high cultural level and sophisticated society of Tang Dynasty China is encapsulated in the exceptional stone carvings of the Longmen Grottoes.
The grottoes and niches of Longmen contain the largest and most impressive collection of Chinese art of the late Northern Wei and Tang Dynasties (316- 907). These works, entirely devoted to the Buddhist religion, represent the high point of Chinese stone carving.