Buddhism, one of the three major religions in the world, was introduced to China in Han Dynasty. Later in the period of the Northern and Southern Dynasty, it became a spiritual residence for the common people suffering social unrest. Emperors and eminent persons also placed high esteem on the religion, which greatly helped it to gain a wide popularity throughout the land. The Chinese version of Buddhism reached its prime by the period of Sui and Tang Dynasty. Corresponding to such acclaim, the Buddhist art rapidly developed with resplendence. For a very long time in the ancient China, Buddha images were the main source for the Chinese sculpture arts mostly made on durable materials like stones, colored hardclay, and gold and metals.
The early Buddhist sculptures were stamped with a strong South Asian style. From Northern Dynasty to Tang Dynasty, Buddhist art underwent a gradual process of adaptation to the Chinese style, especially the artwork attained more influence from folk art during the post-Tang period. This development vividly reflected the way an exotic religion or philosophy was transformed, absorbed and finally made part of the Chinese ideology and life.
The ancient Buddhist sculptures in Shanxi include not only the best-known Yungang Grottoes and Tianlongshan Grottoes, but also many more various Buddha artworks scattered in the rural temples with obscurity. Religions are unreal by nature, but the art they gestate is real. These Buddhist art creations, after thousands of years of vicissitude, still present to the world an eternal beauty.