Shuiyusi (Little Xiangtangshan)

In addition to the Northern and Southern Xiangtangshan Caves, there is a third site Shuiyusi, or "Monastery of Ablutions," with caves and images. The site is also popularly called Xiao Xiangtang, or "Little Xiangtang." The West Cave at Shuiyusi is the largest of the carvings at the site and is dated to the Northern Qi period. It is a central pillar cave modeled on the design of the Northern Caves, though much smaller, 5.35 meters wide, 5.5 meters deep and 4.9 meters high. The central pillar has large niches with Buddhist figures carved on three sides and two other large niches on the side walls. Smaller carvings--spirit kings and kneeling monks on the base of the central pillar, rows of donor figures on the font wall, "Thousand Buddhas," flying apsarases and other figures also appear.

On the West Cave facade there are traces of the outline of a domed roof above the windows with other carvings, including a large jewel at the top.

Shuiyusi West Cave facade

The West Cave central pillar has large niches on three sides, each side with a five principal figures, a Buddha, two disciples and two bodhisattvas.

Shuiyusi West Cave central pillar

West Cave, central pillar right (east) side

Shuiyusi West Cave, central pillar right (east) side

The front wall has rows of donor-worshipper figures carved in relief. Beside some of the figures there are inscriptions identifying the names of sponsors of the cave's creation. These include the monk Dingchan, Chief Controller of the Office for the Clarification of Buddhist Profundities, the highest cleric in the land. Another is a female donor named Zhang Yuan, and her husband, General Lu.

Shuiyusi donor-worshipper figures carved in relief

Large niche on the left wall and small 'Thousand Buddhas'

Shuiyusi niche on the left wall and small 'Thousand Buddhas'

West Cave, detail of base of central pillar, right side, showing, Spirit King, kneeling monk, and incense burner.

Shuiyusi West Cave, Spirit King, kneeling monk, and incense burner

West Cave back wall showing a Buddha and two children making an offering to him, together with an inscription dated 574.

Shuiyusi West Cave back wall