Friday afternoon, towards the end of the first week of our China holiday. We are in Datong in the north of the country, not so far from Beijing. In the late fifth century CE (around the time of the last stages in the disintegration of Rome’s empire in the West) Datong was the site of the prosperous capital of the Northern Wei dynasty, one of the three competing states across China in these years. Around 460CE the rulers commissioned a major Buddhist cave temple complex, and this is our destination today. The surviving statues are deeply impressive but the visit as a whole is, like so much on our trip so far a puzzling and even a touch disconcerting experience.
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