Over 1,000 ancient Buddha statues have been found in north China's Shanxi Province, a local cultural relics protection department said on Friday.
The Buddha statues were found in three stone caves in a cliff in Yangqu County and could date back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), according to local archaeologists.
The stone statues carved into the cave walls are 12 to 25 centimeters long, said Yang Jifu, director of the county's cultural heritage tourism bureau.
Yang said two of the caves had been restored in the Ming Dynasty, according to the record on two steles in the caves.
Archaeologists with the institute of archaeology of Taiyuan, capital of the province, said that stone Buddha statue art reached its peak during the period from the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589) to the Tang Dynasty (618-907), so it is rare to find stone Buddha statues from the Ming Dynasty.
The discovery will contribute to the research on the development and change in religious art in northern ancient China, according to the archaeologists.