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Home >> China City Guide >> Gansu Province >> Dunhuang >> Mogao Caves
 

Mogao Caves

Mogao Caves, Dunhuang travel China tour Gansu tours
Mogao Caves, Dunhuang tours China travel Gansu tour
Mogao Caves, Dunhuang tour China travel Gansu trip

The Mogao Caves, also known as the Mogao Grottoes or the Caves of A Thousand Buddhas, are set into a cliff wall of Echoing Sand Mountain about 25km southeast of Dunhuang, the oasis city in the Gobi desert. This honeycomb of caves was constructed over a millennium, from the 4th to the 14th centuries, and represents the height of Buddhist art and the world's richest treasure house of Buddhist sutras, murals and sculptures. During its heyday, the cave complex had thousands of caves, and today, a total of 492 grottoes, 45,000 square-metres of murals, 2,400 painted statues and over 250 residential caves remains. Almost every grotto contains a group of colorful paintings of Buddha and Bodhisattvas and other religious paintings, or social activities of different dynasties. The caves carved on the cliff wall provide voluminous research material for the study of all aspects of Chinese medieval society, in areas such as religion, art, politics, economics, military affairs, culture, literature, language, music, dance, architecture and medical science. The rich culture and art unearthed in the caves has even given birth to a new field of study, called "Dunhuangology"!

The mural paintings in existence today can be divided into seven categories, including the jataka stories depicting beneficence of Sakyamuni in his previous incarnations, sutra stories depicting suffering and transmigration, traditional Chinese mythology and so on. Although the religious scriptures are primarily Buddhist, written in Chinese, Uygur, Tibetan, Turkic and other languages, Taoist, Manichean and Confucian scrolls are also part of the collection.
(Unfortunately, due to the corrupt and impotent governments after the later Qing dynasties, many of the treasures of the Mogao Caves were plundered by heinous thieves like Aurel Stein, Paul Pelliot, Langdon Warner and Albert von Le Coq, mainly by theft but also through unfair transactions. These treasures can now be found in places like Britain and Germany.)

According to historical records, in the year 336, a monk called Le Zun came near the Echoing Sand Mountain and suddenly had a vision of golden rays of light shining upon him like thousands Buddhas. He started to carve the first grotto to memorize the accident and show his respect to the Buddha. Other pilgrims and travelers followed for the next thousand years.

Dunhuang Travel Attractions
Dunhuang
Mogao Grottoes
Buddhist Art of Dunhuang
Art of Dunhuang Caves
Echoing-sand Mountain
Crescent Moon Lake
 
 
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