Age of restoration

By Wang Kaihao | China Daily | Updated: 2021-01-08 07:26
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Li Fangyin, director of the Academy of Dazu Rock Carvings, a Chongqing-based institute, which is also in charge of the administration of the sites. [Photo by Wang Kaihao/China Daily]

While the larger grottoes within the core zone of the Dazu Rock Carvings have been under spotlight in the past two decades, the smaller ones that are scattered in the wild, like Fozuyan, are still marginalized, and lesser known to the public.

"But these (smaller) sites are part of a well-planned system centering on the holy place of Baodingshan,"Deng says, adding that ancient pilgrims would first see those rock carvings along the road before they arrived at Baodingshan.

The surrounding sites, like Fozuyan which is 2 kilometers away from it, were thought to form barriers to the holy place, Deng adds.

To better protect these smaller sites, a comprehensive conservation and research project was launched in September to cover all of the 68 medium- and small-sized sites and is set to continue until 2023.

Deng's team will conduct detailed surveys and take high-definition photos of Fozuyan as a reference for archaeological research.

However, the project is not just for academic purposes, Li adds.

"We have to improve facilities for visitors to rest and worship the deities."

According to the academy's plan, on average, about 700,000 yuan ($108,000) will be allocated for the renovation of each site.

By 2025, all potential hazards to these medium-and small-sized sites will be addressed.

Fozuyan was last renovated in the late 19th century, according to the stele inscriptions left in the grotto, and it remains in good condition, but many similar sites are also in need of restoration.

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