Analysis of the Conception and Appearance of the Group Portraits of the Twenty-nine Patriarchs

Gao Pengfei


The portraits of the twenty-nine patriarchs in Kanjingsi Cave of Longmen Grottoes are the largest existing statues of the patriarchs in the Chinese grottoes. Kanjingsi Cave belongs to the design of Zen grottoes influenced by square worship grottoes and has the dual nature of meditation and worship, and the group of twenty-nine patriarchs was first used as a substitute for meditation and then as an object of worship. To better show the posture of the human body and the outline of the eyes and cheekbones that can best reflect the characteristics of the patriarchs, the painter chose a three-quarter angle to present the process of passing on the law from generation to generation. Therefore, the monks who go to meditation can watch the images to achieve absolute realism, and this guides the monks who practice meditation to realize Buddhism and Taoism early. The characterization of the images of the twenty-nine patriarchs may be partly from Han Chinese monks and partly from Indian monks.

Key Words

Longmen Grottoes, Kanjingsi Cave, portraits of the Zen patriarchs, conception, appearance

download attachment(1):