Mount Xumi Grottoes are located on the eastern slope of the mountain about 60 kilometers north west of Guyuan County, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. The ideal geographical position of the mountain has a close bearing on the building of the grottoes. The areas used to be a key passage on the ancient Silk Road between the East and the West and also a thoroughfare for exchanges between the Han and other ethnic groups of China. Therefore, it was the scene of many battles. In the Sui (581-618) and Tang (618-907) dynasties, people built temples on the mountain in token of their appeal for peace and stability and against war and murder as well as their faith in Buddhism.
The most celebrated place of interest in the mountain is the Giant Sitting-Buddha Maitreya in Grotto No2. The Maitreya measures 26 meters in height, with its ears the length of two adults put together. The Maitreya has a benign look. It is considered a representative masterpiece of the grotto in the mountain. Grotto No 5 is the biggest of its kind in the mountain. Made of a mound hollowed out, it is called the “Haloes of Xumi”. The grotto consists of seven well-preserved Buddhist statues, each six meters tall, and seven Bodhisattva statues. These sculptures look mysterious and fascinating under a few rays of light that enter the grotto through a hold in the mound. Subjected to devastation by earthquakes and windstorms in its 1,400 year history, half of the grotto was caved-in, but it has recently been restored.
The grotto began its construction around the time of the Northern Wei Dynasty (368-534) and was completed in the Sui (581-618) and Tang (618-907) dynasties. The Buddhist statues, which were made with an artistic approach of realism, reflect the true features of people in the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-581), the Sui and Tang dynasties.