The excursion from Lanzhou to the Buddhist Bingling Caves, carved into a canyon on the Yellow River, provides an introduction to both the monumental religious art that filtered along the Silk Road, and also to the Yellow River itself. The caves are among the earliest significant Buddhist monuments in China – started in the Western Jin and extended by the Northern Wei, the Tang, Song, Yuan and Ming. Though the earliest wall paintings here have been virtually washed away, a considerable number of exquisite carvings survive, mostly in good condition, with some impressive restoration work in progress.

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