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.
by one Buddhist monk, two nuns, two male donors and one female donor. The ceiling, east slope and south slope are severely damaged. The west side of the south wall is devoted to the illustration of the Medicine Buddha and the east side to the illustration of the Sutra on Devas' Questions. Below them are seven male donor figures. The west side of the south wall is covered with the illustration of the Amitabh sutra and the east side with the illustration of the Maitreya sutra (both incomplete). Below them are 10 female donor figures. On the north side of the entrance in the east wall is an illustration of Cintamani-cakra with two female donors below and on the south side is an illustration of Amogha-pasa (the upper part is lost) with three male donor figures below. Notes: According to a a votive text below the west niche (now invisible), this cave was constructed in the 12th year of Xiantong era (871).
is decorated with ocean pomegranate and twisted vines. On the upper of the niche are curtain designs with an apsara on each side. There is an adobe platform on each side alongside the niche, and there was originally a statue (now lost). Below the niche are images of Manjusri, Samantabhadra and Mt. Wutai. Alongside the niche on the south side is an illustration of Samantabhadra, and on the opposite side is that of Manjusri. The south wall depicts the Diamond sutra illustration on the west side and the Amitayus sutra illustration on the east side, both having screen paintings below (vague). The north wall depicts the Panikarasuttau sutra illustration on the west side and that of the Medicine Buddha on the east side, both having screen paintings below (vague). On the east wall, the illustration of Defeating Mara is in the center above the entrance and the Maitreya sutra and Avalokitesvara illustrations are respectively on the south and north sides of the entrance.
with the Early Tang sutra illustrations, the combination of the figures, the layout of the buildings, and the treatment of the perspectives displayed greater artistic refinement, especially the perspective. The hall in the center is the main body of the architecture, and it looks grand when painted in a low angle. Those buildings on the two sides are in a high angle, looking vast. The pavilions in the back are depicted at the eye level, looking deep. In this way, the focus is on the symmetry axis, slightly upward, creating a focus perspective, and making it a perfect patchwork of palace groups.On the space above the entrance in the east wall is a pureland illustration. On the south side are four bodhisattvas including Kistigabha and Avalokitesvara above the Samantabhadra illustration, the lower part is obscured. On the north side are four bodhisattvas including Bhaisajyaguru Bodhisattva above a Manjusri illustration, and below is a row of female donor figures of the Song dynasty(obscured
male donors of the High Tang and four Western Xia female donors (upper part is lost). The upper part of the east wall is damaged. The south side of the entrance contains the images of a Ksitigabha and a Avalokitesvara as well as a Tang dynasty female donor. The north side is covered with the thousand Buddha motifs, below them are images of an Avalokitesvara and a Tang dynasty male donor. There is a preaching scene on the ceiling of the corridor. The south wall of the corridor is devoted to the illustration of Amogha-pasa and the north wall to the Cintamani-cakra illustration, both were painted in the Late Tang. In the front chamber, there is a preahing scene of the Later Tang on the space above the entrance in the west wall (blurred), A Late Tang heavenly king is painted on each of the south and north sides of the entrance (blurred). The south wall in the front chamber has traces of Late Tang paintings (blurred), below them are five male donors (obscured). On the north wall is a Later
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
Constructed in the Northern Wei dynasty, and located on the middle section of the cliff, this is the earliest central-pillared cave at Mogao. It has a gabled ceiling in the front and a flat ceiling in the back. Under the two ends of the beam of the gabled ceiling and the molded rafters on both slopes are wooden brackets, a structure of Traditional Chinese architecture. Between the rafters are images of celestial beings holding lotuses.The flat ceiling in the back is connected to the ground by the central pillar, which has niches in all four sides for various statues. The large niche in the east side contains a cross-legged Maitreya Bodhisattva, which was originally flanked by four attendants, and now there is only one on the south side and two on the north side. On both sides of the nimbus on the west wall in the niche are attendant bodhisattvas respectively above Vasistha and Mrgasirsa. On the ceiling of the niche are apsaras. The lintel is decorated with reborn children on lotuses.
This cave was constructed in the period when the Hexi region was united by the Northern Wei. Originally it was a cave with a central pillar, a gabled ceiling in the front and a flat ceiling in the back. Due to the collapse of the east wall, only a tiny part of the gable ceiling is preserved today. The cave is square in plan with a Han Chinese styled gabled ceiling in the front. On the west slope are celestial beings holding lotuses. The beam is decorated with painted laternendecke motifs. On the flat ceiling are also painted laternendecke motifs, though only two motifs in the southeast corner have survived. One of them depicts a few naked children swimming in a lotus pond. In the outer corner are four asparas. It was surrounded by a decorative border of honeysuckles.The central pillar in the back connects the ground with the ceiling. It has a niche on each of its four sides. The arch niche in the east side contains a statue of Maitreya sitting with legs pendent (whose eyes, nose
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