Constructed in the Sui dynasty and partly repainted in the Song and Western Xia dynasties, this cave has a truncated pyramidal ceiling and a niche in each of the south, west and north walls. This cave is also known as the Three-niche cave. The ceiling features laternendecke motifs and lotuses, the center is a three-rabbit motif. In the corners of the motifs are boy-like apsaras, and out of the corners are winged beasts. The outerframe of the square center is decorated with the patterns consisting of honeysuckles, lions and connected pearls. More outside are draperies extending to the four slopes where large-sized sutra illustration are depicted. Each scene is separated by the trees, flowers, temples, fountains, or lotus ponds and clouds. However, the density and discolor of these paintings on the four slopes make it very hard to decipher, therefore, opinions about the contents of the four slopes differ. There are mainly two opinions: 1. they are painted according to the Lotus Sutra
This cave was constructed in the later period when Guazhou was ruled by the Western Xia. With the diversified contents and art of both exotic and esoteric Buddhism, supported respectively by Chinese and the Tibetans, it is a most representative cave with the most matured and unique art. The cave is rectangular in plan with a dome ceiling. In the central back is an octangular altar with three steps on which stand a few statues of the Qing dynasty. The lower parts of the four walls are platforms of double steps built in the Qing dynasty, on which stand the statues of eighteen arhats. The ceiling is covered with a Mandala: in the center are five Buddhas of five directions. The middle part of the east wall is used for depicting Buddha's life stories, and on the two sides are a mandala of fifty-one headed thousand-armed and thousand-eyed Avalokitesvara of exotic Buddhism, a garbhadhatu-mandala of the esoteric Buddhism, and an illustration of the Sutra on Deva's Questions of exotic
This cave, constructed in the High Tang and renovated in the Qing dynasty, has a truncated pyramidal ceiling and a niche in the west wall. The ceiling center of the main chamber is a design of a large medallion surrounded by different decorative borders, one after another, of the connected pearls, half medallion, scales, and draperies. The four slopes are covered with the thousand Buddha motifs. The west niche which has a flat ceiling contains a central Buddha made in the Tang dynasty, renovated in the Qing dynasty, two disciples reshaped in the Qing dynasty, and two bodhisattvas repainted in the Qing dynasty. Most of the ceiling of the niche is damaged. The north and south sides of the niche each depict a bodhisattva. There is a platform made of adobe on either side out of the niche, on which stands a bodhisattva of the Qing dynasty. The east wall is covered with an illustration of Vimalakirti sutra, which consists of three scenes in the form of the Chinese character "品". The space
Constructed in the High Tang period, this cave has a truncated pyramidal ceiling. The ceiling center features a medallion pattern composed of flowers and clouds and draperies. The draperies extend to the four slopes covered with the thousand Buddha motifs (partly damaged). A niche with a flat ceiling in the west wall contains a seven figure group made in the Tang dynasty and repainted in the Qing dynasty. The ceiling is decorated with a parasol and lotuses. Each of the north and south sides out of the niche depicts a Bodhisattva. The south wall is covered with a western pure land illustration, the middle and lower parts of it was damaged. The north wall is also covered with an Amitayus sutra illustration with two side scenes respectively for the Sixteen Meditation and the story between Bimbisara and Ajatasattu. The lower part is lost. Most of the east wall has collapsed, ony a few images of the thousand Buddha motifs have survived on the north side of the entrance.
Constructed in the Late Tang, this is a hall cave with a truncated pyramidal ceiling and has been badly damaged. There is a tent-like niche in the west wall, in which the original statues have been damaged. There is is a pattern composed of a crossed vajra and a medallion on the niche top. The west slope in the niche has a picture of three seated Buddhas (only two preserved) and an incarnated boy, the other four slopes each have a picture of three seated Buddhas. The west, north and south walls in the niche are divided into a upper section and a lower section. All the upper section exhibit a picture of three seated Buddhas, but on the west wall only two are preserved. The lower sections are all covered with screen paintings. The four screen paintings on the west show six disciples, while the six screen paintings on both the north and the south walls each has a bodhisattva. The brim of the niche is decorated with vines and pomegranate mofits. Below the niche is a votive text, flanked
This cave was constructed in the Tang dynasty and its corridor was renovated in the Song dynasty. It has a truncated pyramidal ceiling and a west niche. The ceiling of the main chamber features a medallion pattern formed by four cloud motifs and the draperies extend to the four slopes which are covered with the thousand Buddha motifs with a seated Buddha in the center. The tent-like ceiling of the west niche contains a five figure group: one Buddha, two bodhisattvas and two disciples. The U shaped altar has six small frames decorated with musicians. The center of the niche ceiling highlights a painted medallion. The west slope is decorated with draperies on the upper and two screen paintings below, which illustrate Buddha's life stories including the bathing scene of the prince by nine dragons. The north slope shows the same design as the south one, but the screen paintings illustrate the Three Assembly of Maitreya, namely the Maitreya sutra illustration. The edge of the niche
This is a hall cave with a truncated pyramidal ceiling constructed in the High Tang period. The ceiling center is a medallion enclosed by circular network, and in each of the four corners is an apsara. The four slopes are covered with thousand Buddha motifs. A niche with a flat ceiling in the west wall contains a seven-figure group: a Seated Buddha with legs pendent flanked by two disciples and four bodhisattvas, all renovated in the Qing dynasty. Except two bodhisattvas sit with one leg bent and one pendent, all the others stand. On the two sides of the nimbus are six painted disciples. There is a bodhi parasol on the ceiling of the niche. On each of the two sides out of the niche is a heavenly king statue, and an apsara is painted along the niche on either side.Both the south and north walls are covered with a large-sized Amitayus sutra illustration, while the layout of the figures, buildings and space arrangement of the one on the north wall are more pleasant to look at. Compared
Constructed in the High Tang and renovated in the Late Tang and Western Xia, this cave has a truncated pyramidal ceiling. Most of the main chamber has collapsed. Now there is only a part of the west slope of the ceiling with a half medallion motif and a part of the north slope of the ceiling with a head of a bhiksu survived. The tent-like niche in the west wall contains a group of stucco figures of the High Tang period: a seated Buddha, two disciples, two bodhisattvas, and two heavenly kings. There is a platform on which stands guardian warriors on both the north and south sides alongside the niche. There is an illustration of the Vimalakirti sutra on the south wall (most of it is damaged). Below the sutra illustration are sixteen donor figures of the Western Xia. The north wall is covered with an Amitayus sutra illustration (the upper part is lost) with two side scenes for the Sixteen Meditations and the story between Bimbisara and Ajatasattu. Below it are six female donors and five
Located on the middle section of the Southern Area at Mogao and constructed in the Early Tang dynasty (renovated in the Middle Tang, Later Tang, Five Dynasties, Song and Qing dynasties), this cave has a truncated pyramidal ceiling and a niche in the west wall. It is one of the representative Tang dynasty caves. It was perhaps in the Song or Western Xia period that the paintings in this cave were all covered with the thousand Buddha motifs. In 1944, the Dunhuang Art Research Institute removed the upper layer murals on the four walls, revealing the original Early Tang paintings. The west niche contains a central Buddha flanked by two disciples and two bodhisattvas (renovated in the Qing dynasty). The donor figures of the Early Tang below the niche are vague. The illustrations of the Vimalakirti and Manjusri are respectively rendered on the two sides out of the niche. The south wall is occupied by the Amitayus sutra illustration, and the north wall by the Medicine Buddha illustration.
Constructed in the late Northern Wei and the early Western Wei, this single-chambered cave is square in plan with a truncated pyrmidal ceiling. The ceiling center features a combination motif of an inverted lotus, flames, honeysuckles and lotuses. The four slopes are devoted to the paintings of "the heaven and earth with various images." The upper part depicts a world where Buddhism coexists with Taoism. In the center of the west slope is four-armed four-eyed Asura guarded by two dragons standing in the sea and holding the sun and the moon in his hands. Behind him are Mt.Sumeru and the Tusita Heaven. On both sides of Mt. Sumeru are gods of the Thunder, the Lightning, Wind and Rain who created a scene of thunder and lighting, in addition to the Scarlet Bird, Wuhuo, Garuda and apsaras. In the upper center of the east slope is a Mani Pearl held high by two guardian warriors and flanked by apsaras. The Scarlet Bird and the peacock fly towards each other. The image of King Father
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