Photographer spends years documenting Chinese grotto art | Updated: 2023-04-18 09:16
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Maijishan Grottoes, a world cultural heritage site in Tianshui city of Gansu province, on July 5, 2020. The niches were dug in a vertical cliff face 80 meters high and 200 meters wide. [Photo by Ren Shichen/]

Photographer Ren Shichen has had a profound fascination with statuary art for many years. China has ample supply to satisfy his interest, as its grotto ruins, mainly scattered on the ancient Silk Road, have hundreds or even thousands of years of history.

Grotto art is a treasured ancient culture, and Chinese grottoes are no exception. They were usually dug in mountain peaks or steep rocks, and can be found in Gansu, Shaanxi, Henan, Shanxi and Sichuan provinces as well as Chongqing municipality and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

Ren has spent the last dozen years capturing the artworks, and used portrait technique to make these statues more vivid and lifelike. Mainly focusing on the remains of grottoes on the ancient Silk Road, he has captured more than 200 grotto sites in over 20 provinces.

As we mark this year's International Day for Monuments and Sites, let's see some of the grotto art Ren has immortalized with his camera.

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