Tianti Mountain Grottoes monastery, (towards) Huangyangzhen, Gansu, CN

Raw data

"The Tianti Mountain Grottoes 天梯山石窟, also named Big Buddha Temple, is surrounded by successive mountains as if a suspending ladder, hence it got the name."
Input by: tmciolek, Jul 26, 2011

"Tianti Mountain Grottoes is located in Dengshan Village in the south of Wuwei City with 50 kilometers (31 miles) away from the city center, which was built in the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317 A.D.-420 A.D.) […] it is called “One of the Eight Attractions in Ancient Liangzhou City” (the present Wuwei City). […] The Tianti Mountain Grottoes was enlarged in the Northern Wei Dynasty (386 A.D.-534 A.D.), the Sui Dynasty (581 A.D.-618 A.D.), the Tang Dynasty (618 A.D.-907 A.D.) and the Xixia Kingdom (1,038 A.D.-1,227 A.D.), and it became a Lamaism Temple in the Ming (1,368- A.D.-1,644 A.D.) and the Qing Dynasties (1,616 A.D.-1,911 A.D.). More than 10 grottoes were destroyed in varying degree during the earthquake in 1927. Owing to the construction of the Huangyang Reservoir in 1959, some of the statues and frescoes were moved into the Museum of Gansu Province for the safe side. […]
As one of the earliest grottoes in China, Tianti Mountain Grottoes plays an important part in the history of Chinese Buddhism, which was chiseled earlier than Yun’gang Grottoes of Datong in Shanxi Province and Longmen Grottoes of Luoyang in He’nan Province. Only 3 layers remain in the Tianti Mountain Grottoes with 18 grottoes of different sizes, among which 10 grottoes are from the Northern Wei Dynasty (386 A.D.-534 A.D.), 4 grottoes are from the Tang Dynasty (618 A.D.-907 A.D.) and another 4 grottoes are broken. The biggest grotto from the Tang Dynasty (618 A.D.-907 A.D.) is 30 meters (98 feet) high, 19 meters (21 yards) wide and 6 meters (20 feet) deep in size, where the statue of Buddha Sakyamuni is enshrined with 15 meters (49 feet) high and 10 meters (11 yards) wide, with 6 statues of Buddha such as Manjusri Bodhisattva and Samantabhadra standing on both sides, and all the statues are vivid in profile and stately in appearance. And there are many frescoes on the north and south walls in the grotto, among which there are a dragon flying in the clouds, an elephant carrying the sutras and a fierce tiger on the south wall, and there are a dragon, a white horse, a Bodhi Tree and some peonies on the north wall, which are very vivid in spirit and magnificent in style. […]"

"According to A General History of China written by Fan Wenlan, Tiantishan Mountain Grottoes first erected under the reign of Mengxun, dating from over 1,500 years, earlier than Yungang Grottoes and Longmen Grottoes. Afterwards, it was renovated during Northern Wei Period, Sui Dynasty, Tang Dynasty and Western Xia Period and until Ming and Qing Dynasties it became a lamasery. Tiantishan Mountain Grottoes remains three stories with 17 different sizes of caves, of which the largest is 30-meter-high, 19-meter-wide and 6-meter-deep.
A 15-meter-high, 10-meter-wide sitting statue of Skamania is in the grotto. Among the people, there are some songs and beautiful legends about this. On the two sides of the Skamania there are six vivid and majestic sculptures of Bodhisattva Manjusri, Samantabhadra and so on. The southern and northern wall in the Grotto is decorated with fresco. […]"

Tianfo Temple Grotto
Type: Caverns/ Caves, Religious Sites
Dengshan Village, Zhonglu Country, Liangzhou District Wuwei 733007
Input by: tmciolek, Aug 5, 2011

Final data (and their sources)

Last updated: 21 Jul 2014

Lat/Long coordinates' accuracy:
The monastery in question is assumed to be situated actually no farther than 200 m from the point defined by the coordinates below.

Location of Tianti Mountain Grottoes monastery, CN.

General location of the Tianti Mountain Grottoes monastery, CN.
Lat 37.5690 Long 102.7485
Mapping & images: Falling Rain Genomics (http://www.fallingrain.com), 2011.

Google Map link:


Final data - explanatory notes

1. Monastery's name


2. Monastery's modern country & province

  • China:Gansu Sheng

3. Monastery's alternative/historical names

4. Monastery's lat/long coordinates

  • Approx., Lat 37.5690 Long 102.7485 - based on visual identification of the site in maps, http://maps.google.com/maps - tmciolek, 5 Aug 2011.

5. Other known nearby Buddhist monasteries

  • [missing data]

6. Modern name of the known nearest city, town, or village

7. The settlement's alternative/historical names

8. The settlement's coordinates

9. Monastery's major Buddhist tradition

10. Monastery's Buddhist sub-tradition

  • [missing data]

11. Date-early

MBM chrono-tag 0367-99p 0400-32p 0433-66p 0467-99p 0500-32p 0533-66p - tmciolek 21 Jul 2014
0333-66p 0367-99p 0400-32p 0433-66p 0467-99p 0500-32p 0533-66p 0600-32c 0633-66c 0667-99c 0700-32c 0733-66c 0767-99c 0800-32c 0833-66c 0867-99c 0900-32c 0933-66c 0967-99c 1000-32c 1033-66c 1067-99c 1100-32c 1133-66c 1167-99c 1200=> dated-el

12. Date-intermediate

13. Date-late

MBM chrono-tag 1200=> - tmciolek 21 Jul 2014

14. Details of contacts with other monasteries

  • [missing data]

15. Type of evidence regarding the monastery

  • archaeological, art stylistic

16. Additional notes

17. Corrections & addenda to this page were kindly provided by

  • [missing data]

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