Taiyuan in Shanxi province, the former Jing yang, flourished as a second big town next to the Capital of Ye during the Eastern Wei and Northern Ch'i periods. It is also a town where Buddhism prospered under the protection of the Emperor. Cave temples of Tien-lung-shan are located on the cliffs near the mountaintops of eastern and western mountains of Tien-lung-shan, which is 30km southwest of Taiyuan, where over 200 Buddha, Bodhisattva and celestial images were carved in 24 caves from the Eastern Wei period (mid-sixth century) to the Northern Ch'i, Sui and High Tang periods (mid-eighth century).
This is a sitting Tathagata image, which was engraved on white sandstone in high relief. The head and half of the right arm are missing now. There is a mortise in the cross-section of the neck, which suggests that the head was made of different material. Although most of the coloring has exfoliated and patina has developed on some parts of the robe, a slight amount of red coloring can be found on the belt over the stomach. It is not known which cave this one originally came from, but it strongly displays the characteristics of sculpture of the High Tang period, such as the texture of the drapery folds engraved on the thin robe and the realistic representation of the thin, well-balanced body that can be perceived through the robe.
As soon as these cave temples came to be widely known at the beginning of the twentieth century, many of the images were scattered all over the world and most of the images remaining in the Cave Temples suffered damage from weathering and exposure to water.