Around the World in 80 Models: China Pt. 2

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Hop on board as we continue our journey Around the World in 80 Models! We began our itinerary at Sketchfab headquarters in New York and are working our way through Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, South America, and North America. To catch up on past destinations, check out the rest of the Around the World in 80 Models series.

This week we meet up with Chinese architecture scholar Di Luo to explore one of the caves at Datong in northern China.

Datong, China: Yungang Cave 20

My name is Di Luo, PhD in East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. I study premodern Chinese architecture.

The model featured here was scanned in my 2014 summer field trip to China, where I visited a number of Buddhist monasteries and cave temples to gather first-hand information for the writing of my PhD dissertation. It was photographed using a Canon DSLR and processed in Autodesk Memento.

To me, 3D modeling is not only fun but also helps research in a significant way. My dissertation focuses on the issue of scale and how the change in scale influences and reshapes people’s perception and interpretation of art and architecture. Developing photogrammetric models has allowed me to conduct quantitative analysis so as to reach a more critical understanding of my research objects.

About Yungang Cave 20
Location: Datong, Shanxi Province, China
Further info:

This 13.7-meter-tall colossal Buddha excavated from the sandstone cliff at Yungang (Cloud Ridge) is the most spectacular of all Buddhist statues at this UNESCO world heritage site.

The seated Buddha, originally inside a rock-cut “temple” called a shikusi 石窟寺 (or shiku 石窟), has now been exposed to the exterior due to the collapse of the wall. Together with Caves 16, 17, 18, and 19, these five caves are known collectively as the famous “Tanyao wuku 曇曜 (Five Caves by Monk Tanyao)” cut into the living rock between 460-465 CE (Northern Wei dynasty). Each of the caves features a colossal Buddha.

Historical records indicate that Tanyao, the monk after whom the caves are named, was appointed by the Northern Wei emperor as the “superintendent of monks” in charge of planning and supervising the excavation of the five caves. Such a majestic project was successful due mainly to generous and uninterrupted imperial support and patronage. Scholars speculate that the five Buddhas might have even been sculpted in the likeness of five previous Northern Wei emperors.

The plump face of the Buddha, the elongated earlobes, the broad shoulders and the flowing lines of his robe all suggest a strong influence from certain Northern Indian and Central Asian prototypes. Its form has since inspired many later works of Buddhist art in China.

To see more of Di Luo’s models here on Sketchfab, check out her profile!


About the author


Abby & Néstor

Abby and Néstor are Sketchfab Masters.
Abby Crawford, Ph.D. is trained in and passionate about Roman Archaeology and works as a freelance artifact illustrator and 3D scanner in California.
Néstor F. Marqués is a virtual Heritage & cultural diffusion researcher, and an enthusiast of ancient Rome’s culture.

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