Shibao Mountain

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Over 100 km north of Dali stands the Shibao Mountain ( covered in thick forest. Amidst the forests is the Shizhong Temple, beside which stands a huge rock resembling an immense ancient bell tottering at the edge of a cliff. The mountain is also known for Yunnan's most ancient grotto sculptures by eighth-century Bai craftsmen of the Nanzhao Kingdom. These lifelike sculptures include the statues of the Tathagata Buddha, Kasyapa and Ananda, the eight Buddhist karma guardians, the slender-waisted Goddess of Mercy, and a deity with elephant head and human body. In two of the 16 grottoes there are groups of human images, including one of the family of Geluofeng, Nanzhao’s fifth king, and the other, a scene of King Geluofeng discussing state affairs with top officials.

The A'ang Bai Stone Carving – symbol of the Bai people's most ancient belief – is also unique of the Shibao Mountain. "A'ang" means a "girl" in the Bai language, while "bai," the crack from which babies are born, i.e., female genitals. The sculpture, dating back to 1179, is a relic of Bai female phallic worship. The presence of female genital sculpture in grottoes dominated by Buddhist and royal images is a very rare occurrence anywhere in the world.