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Gold, silver traces found in statues in Longmen Grottoes in China

Beijing, May 31 (EFE).- A team of archaeologists has discovered traces of gold, silver and colored glass in statues of the Longmen Grottoes, in the central Chinese province of Henan, famous for its 100,000 stone images of Buddha dating back to the 5th century, state-owned Xinhua agency reported Tuesday.

The findings, in the Fengxiansi Cave of the archaeological site, are of great importance because they will allow better preservation of the statues and a deeper understanding of the artistic techniques used in their creation, explained Shi Jiazhen, president of the Longmen Grottoes research institute.

The researchers used advanced technologies to analyze the face of the huge Vairocana Buddha statue, carved during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) era, and found elements of gold and silver suggesting that gilding was used, said Shi.

On the body of the sculpture they also found remains of green, red and black pigments that indicate that the statue probably was adorned with brightly colored garments.

Moreover, archaeologists discovered in another statue of a Bodhisattva, that the eyes were finished with colored glass with the use of silicon and lead.

“The glass showed dark green after cleaning, which was rare during the Tang Dynasty,” said Ma Chaolong, an official of the institute.

The Longmen Grottoes, which has more than 2,000 caves, were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000 and are one of the most important tourist and cultural spots in China. EFE


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