Yungang Grottoes: Utilization should be based on proper protection

The Yungang Grottoes near Datong city, Shanxi Province, is one of the most renowned and oldest ancient Buddhist sculptural sites of China. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.

The site is located in the valley of the Shi Li river at the base of the Wuzhou Shan mountains. Built in Northern Wei Dynasty (368 – 534), the Yungang Grottoes is a big-scale grotto temple relic of that time. The Yungang Grottoes is considered by UNESCO to "have played a vitally important role among early Oriental Buddhist grottoes and had a far-reaching impact on Buddhist cave art in China and East Asia." 

It not only represents the outstanding achievement of Buddhist cave art in ancient China, but also embodies the history of cultural exchanges between China and other countries. 

The Yungang Grottoes is located in north China's Shanxi Province.

The Yungang Grottoes is located in north China's Shanxi Province.

The conservation work of Yungang Grottoes has been receiving increasing attention. The State Council listed the grottoes as the first group of State Priority Protected Sites in 1961. 

Besides, regulations like "Conservation Master Plan of Yungang Grottoes" and "Regulations of Datong Municipality on Protection and Management of Yungang Grottoes" have guaranteed the protection and management of the Yungang Grottoes. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping has stressed the protection of Yungang Grottoes as they are the "treasure of human civilization" during his visit at the grottoes Monday. Xi said the research and utilization of the Yungang Grottoes should be based on proper protection. 

In recent years, the Yungang Grottoes Research Academy has established various teams to carry out protection, monitoring and regular maintenance. The academy has built departments like painted mural painting protection laboratory and digital center to help with conservation work.

(Cover image: The Yungang Grottoes is located about 16 kilometers west of the city of Datong, north China's Shanxi Province. /VCG )