A series made up of five coins was produced in 2002 to celebrate the cave art at the Longmen Grottoes. Of these five, three are silver and two are gold. Here is the 20 yuan, 2 oz silver coin of the series which has a mintage of 30,000 and measures 40mm in diameter. It has a frosted finish. Coins in this series are proof quality pieces with a fineness of 99.9%.
A UNESCO World Heritage site since 2000 and located in Henan province in central China, the Longmen Grottoes contain some of the best and most impressive examples of Chinese Buddhist artworks, most notably some 100,000 statues of Buddha and his followers along with thousands of stelae and numerous pagodas. The caves were dug out of the limestone cliff faces. About a third of the caves date from the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-535); just under two-thirds date from the Tang Dynasty (618-907); and the remainder date from various other periods.
The reverse face of the 2 oz silver coin features an image of the Sakyamuni figure flanked by two disciples, Kasyapa and Ananda. It is the principal carving of Buddha, 6.45 tall, on the back wall of the Middle Binyang Cave of the grottoes. Work on the cave began in 500 and was finished in 523. It is 12m in length, 10.9m in width, and 9.3m in height. Below the image is the denomination, 20 yuan.
The obverse face features an image of the Niche of Vairocana Buddha, a carving situated in the Fengxian Si Cave. Measuring 17.14m in height with 2m long ears, it is the tallest of all the statues in the Longmen Grottoes. The carving was completed in 676, testified to by an inscription on the base of the statue, and typifies the Tang Dynasty style. Either side of the Vairocana Buddha are statues of his two main disciples, Kasyapa and Ananda, and two Bodhisattvas. Appearing above and below the image are two inscriptions in Chinese characters. The one above reads: “Chinese Cave Art: Longmen”, and the one below reads: “The People’s Republic of China”. Below appears the year of production, 2002.