Cave 9

Cave 9 was cut into the eastern edge of the western section at Tianlongshan in the Tang dynasty. It consists of a huge niche with two levels. The upper level is set back and has a massive colossal Maitreya Buddha image more than 7.5 meters high, seated with his back against the cliff and his head reaching nearly to the cliff top. The lower level has three large bodhisattvas carved in the round, a central standing eleven-headed Avalokitesvara (Guanyin) and two seated bodhisattvas at the sides, each riding on an animal. The Guanyin figure stands 5.5 meters high. Its head is a modern replacement for the original one. The bodhisattva on the east side, mounted on an elephant, is Samantabhadra (Puxian), and the one on the west side, sitting on a lion, is Manjusri (Wenshu).

The large group of carvings is protected by a tall wooden structure that was reconstructed in recent times. The original building, believed to be from the Tang, was repaired in the tenth century, as recorded on the stele dated 975 preserved at the site.

Cave 9 north wall, upper level. The Maitreya Buddha sits on a rectangular Sumeru throne with his feet placed on lotus blossoms at the front of the throne.

Tianlongshan Cave 9 back north wall 1

Cave 9 seated Maitreya Buddha, torso viewed from upper level of the building

Tianlongshan Cave 9 back north wall 4

Detail of Buddha head from the right side

Tianlongshan Cave 9 back north wall 3

Cave 9 small Buddhas on the lower level back wall behind the bodhisattva figures

Tianlongshan Cave 9 back north wall 2

Cave 9 Samantabhadra bodhisattva seated on elephant, lower level east side

Tianlongshan Cave 9 right east wall

Cave 9 Manjusri bodhisattva seated on lion, lower level west side

Cave 9 lower level bodhisattvas

Tianlongshan Cave 9 other 2

Cave 9 head of central eleven-headed bodhisattva (modern replacement)

Historical photo, Cave 9 upper level, colossal Maitreya Buddha

Historical photo, Cave 9 lower level bodhisattvas Samantabhadra, Avalokitesvara, and Manjusri