Qingzhou Statuary, located in the site of Longxing Temple in Qingzhou County of East China's Shandong Province, was discovered in October 1996. The batch statues excavated feature a large number, a good variety, elaborate design and colorful paintings and have drawn great interest from the circles of academy, religion, art and the whole society. It was listed as one of the Ten Great Chinese Archaeological Discoveries in 1996.
These 400 carved statues were produced in the period from the Northern Wei Dynasty (386 -534) to the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). The number of such statues made in the Northern Dynasty (420-589) is the greatest. The statues, with their exquisite engraving and outstanding craftsmanship, still show the original varied postures and colors and features of that time, although they have been seriously damaged. It's even more treasurable because some colored gold leaves gilded on the surface of many of the statues still remain there, providing a rare chance for people to see the real looks of these carved statues.
By the Northern and Southern Dynasties Period (420-581), Buddhism had been deeply rooted in Chinese society from prince, duke to common people, which boosted the building of grottoes, statues, temples and pagodas all over China. No matter it is a stone carving or clay sculpture, the work was colorfully painted and gilded with gold leaves. Generally speaking, the color of stone Buddhist statues would have been all faded long ago if these statues were not stored underground. However, among Longxing Temple cellar-stored statues, a large number of stone statues remain colorful with the gilded golden leaves and are therefore extremely valuable.
Among the figures of Buddha in Longxing Temple there are a number of statues of Vairocana Buddha. The Buddha's body is painted with the scenarios of doctrine teaching, images of Flying Apasas, the Hell and so on. This special statuary embodies the concept of demonstrating dharma-realm through Buddhas, and is a creative art form.
The Buddhist statues in Longxing Temple, rich in models and patterns, reflect a change from delicate figure in loose clothes to thin clothes to show the figure in the late Northern Wei Dynasty. Some clothes on the statues are of densely pleated silk, some are pure and translucent clothes. Bodhisattvas in Longxing Temple feature complicated clothes and wear pearl and jade adornments. The Flying Asparas assume a prominent sitting posture with music instrument in hands, flying in sky. Carved on the background are hornless dragons, standing on the head and with feet and tail stretching out.