The Maijishan Grottoes

Located Southeast of Tianshyui City in Gansu Province on a 142 meters high hill named Maijishan, meaning "Wheat-pile Hill". Work on the grottoes started in the late 4th century and continued through successive North Wei (386-534 A.D.) and Song (960-1279 A.D.) dynasties until the 19th century. There are 194 existing caves, in which are preserved more than 7,000 sculptures made of terra cotta and over 1,000 square meters of murals. Earthquakes, rain and fire have damaged a large part of the caves and wooden structures.

This photo is from a 2001 book published by the Asian Society called Monks & Merchants, Silk Roads Treasures from Northwest China, which has been accompanied by a traveling world exhibit. 

For more information go to:

More than 120 artifacts from the regions where the Silk Road wound through Chinese territory were on view at the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Fla. March/April 2002.


This distinctive portrait of Buddha's oldest disciple, marked here as a foreigner - an Indian - by the beaklike nose, is found in Cave 87 at Maijishan. The King who built the temple on top of the giant rock at Sigiriya was also called Kasyapa:

"In pre-Vedic times, Kasyapa was a primordial god. He was the father of the devas, the asuras, the nagas, and mankind. His name means tortoise, and he was connected to the cosmic tortoise which made up the universe. In Vedic times Kasyapa had Aditi as his consort, and he was the father of the Adityas. In later times he became equated with Prajapati and Brahma, and was also named as one of the rishis."

Are there deeper connections between Maijishan and Sigiriya besides the obvious giant rock architecture?

(I'm researching this... Come back to this page for  more on this question later. Remy C.)