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Indian monk's tomb found near Longmen Grottoes

BY :xinhua

UPDATED :October 27, 2020


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Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang city of Henan province was listed as the UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2000. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Longmen Grottoes being included in the list. 

On an academic exchange conference held in Luouyang, Henan October 19, six new archaeological discoveries of Longmen Grottoes were announced by the Longmen Grottoes Research Institute.
 Night view of Longmen Grottoes(Photo/Xinhua)

Among them was the discovery of the foundations of a pagoda at the Xiangshan Temple site, located in the west of Xiangshan, south of Luoyang City, the ancient capital of the Tang Dynasty. The pagoda was likely the tomb of an eminent Indian Buddhist monk named Divakara who came to China during the Tang Dynasty.
Buddha statue found at the Fengxian Temple site, part of Longmen Grottes site(Photo/kaoguluoyang)

"It is the first large-scale excavation of the Xiangshan Temple site. So far, we have excavated an area of 3,000 square meters and achieved important phased results," said Shi Jiazhen, director of the Longmen Grottoes Research Institute.
Excavation at the Xiangshan Temple site(Photo/kaoguluoyang)

Divakara ( 613–687), with a Chinese name Rizhao, was born in central India in the Brahmin Caste. He became a Monk when he was just a child, and went to Chang’an, China, in 676, the first year of the Yifeng years of the Tang Dynasty.

In 680, the first year of the Yonglong years, the emperor commanded ten learned Monks to assist Divakara in translating sutras from Sanskrit into Chinese. In the following seven years, Divakara translated eighteen sutras and scriptures in 34 volumes, but unfortunately, he fell ill and died in the twelfth month of 687, at the age of seventy-five. Empress Wu Zetian, China's only empress, had him buried properly at the Xiangshan Temple in Luoyang.
Xiangshan Temple in Longmen(Photo/Longmen Grottoes)

The foundations were unearthed at Xiangshan Temple, part of the Longmen Grottoes site, which was built at the command of Empress Wu Zetian (624-705), who was also a Buddhist. A large number of findings, including another pagoda foundation, stone sculptures, bronze Buddha statues and house relics, were also discovered.
Relic found at the Xiangshan Temple site(Photo/kaoguluoyang)

"In combination with documentary data, it is preliminarily speculated to be the tomb of the Indian monk Divakara, who entered China in the Tang Dynasty," Shi Jiazhen said.
Foundations unearthed at Xiangshan Temple site(Photo/kaoguluoyang)

"The cultural exchanges between China and India have a long history. During the Tang Dynasty, the cultural exchanges between the two reached their peak. There was good dialogue and interaction between Buddhism and other cultural elements, and this archaeological excavation proves it," Shi said.

Another six tombs of Buddhists in the Tang Dynasty also were found on the north slope of Xishan, Longmen Grottoes site, unearthing cultural relics like bricks, stele pieces, a round lotus throne and a stone gate. 
 Stone gate found in tombs on the north slope of Xishan, Longmen(Photo/kaoguluoyang)

In particular, the stone gate carved with fine floral branch and peony patterns, combined both line carving and relief carving techniques, which showcases the frequent cultural exchanges between China and the West during the Tang Dynasty.