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Sino-foreign Experts Work to Protect Buddhist Grotto

Cultural relic experts from both home and abroad have made a joint investigation at Luoyang city of central China's Henan Province to develop a rescue plan for a renowned Buddhist grotto, according to sources with the grotto on Tuesday.

The Longmen Grotto, a prestigious World Cultural Heritage Site dating back some 1,500 years ago, is situated approximately 13 km south of ancient Luoyang city and boasts 2,100 grottoes and niches, over 40 crematory urns, 3,600 inscribed stone tablets and more than 100,000 Buddhist images and statues.

As most of the statues were carved into the cliff face, they had long suffered exposure to the combined harm of sun damage, rain erosion and atmospheric pollution, causing the rock to crumble and break off in chunks.

After three days of field survey and inspection, more than 30 established experts from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the World Cultural Relic Research Center of Peking University, the China Relics Research Institute and the Beijing-based Palace Museum plan to use a kind of new material to reinforce the cracks and clear away calcium sediments on the statues.

A total of 97 cracks have been spotted and some inscriptions are being gradually erased by water erosion.

Han Yuling, president of the Longmen Grotto Research Institute, said that detailed rescue plans would not be confirmed until experimental tests are made in one or two caves.

(Xinhua News Agency July 30, 2003)

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