THEY date back to the 17th century and have never left China before. Now ancient stone rock carvings from the steep hillsides of the Dazu World Heritage site, near Chongqing, have been transported to Wales for a major exhibition.
There are around 50,000 figures at the site and most were developed between the 9th and 13th centuries.
They are renowned for their aesthetic quality, their rich diversity of subject matter, both secular and religious, and the light that they shed on everyday life in China during this period.
This free exhibition - From Steep Hillsides: Ancient Rock Carvings from Dazu, China - contains carvings that have become detached from their original setting, along with accurate replicas of some of the most important sculptures still in situ.
There are also dramatic large-scale images to give visitors an idea of what the pieces are like in their original environment.
The exhibition, which will run for eight weeks, will be officially opened next week by First Minister Carwyn Jones.
"I'm pleased that these sacred rock carvings are coming to Wales and that National Museum Cardiff is the only secured venue for this important exhibition before it returns to Dazu," he says.
"This exhibition further strengthens our cultural relationship with the Chongqing municipality in China."
Li Fangyin, curator of Art Museum of Dazu Rock Carvings, Chongqing, says they are delighted to be taking the carvings outside of China for the first time - and he believesWales is the perfect place to show them.
"Wales is a place that is steeped in history and cultures, and the rich historical and cultural deposits embedded within it are exactly why we chose National Museum Cardiff to host the first appearance of the Dazu rock carvings art outside of China," says Fangyin.
"As a world cultural heritage, Dazu Rock Carvings should not only be taken as a treasure for local people of Dazu, but should also be recognised as a cultural property of the whole world, and both the artistic and historical value should be shared and appreciated by world people. …