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 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
was badly damaged due to the hole cut through the wall. There is also a hole in the image of thousand-armed Manjusri with a bowl in each hand on the north wall, and above the hole is a picture of five dhyana Buddhas.
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.
and hunting scenes are painted. There is a big niche in the west wall which has two small side cells. The west niche contains a seated Buddha with legs pendent and preaching. The side cells in the niche each have a meditation monk with a cowl. The upper part of the space out of the niche is occupied with various images of all kinds of devas and heretic figures, such as the gods of the Sun and the Moon, the gods of the stars, Visnu, Mahesvara, Kumara, Vinayaka, and worshipping bodhisattvas, below them are four heavenly kings and Vasistha. The brim of the niche at the bottom is decorated with the honeysuckle motifs. The North wall consists of the upper, middle and lower parts. The upper part is devoted to eleven musician apsaras holding different music instruments. The middle part is covered with the narrative story of five hundred robbers, which ends with the scene of Sakyamuni and Prabhutaratna sitting side by side. The lower part contains four cells. The spaces between the cells on the side
Constructed in the Sui dynasty and Renovated in the Five Dynasties, this cave consists of a main chamber, a corridor and a front chamber. The main chamber has a gabled ceiling in the front and a central pillar connecting the ground with the flat ceiling in the back. On the two slopes of the gabled ceiling are jataka tales painted in two horizontal bands, and on the flat ceiling are pictures of the Sui dynasty preaching scenes and painted laternendecke motifs. The central pillar is shaped like Mt. Sumeru formed by a seven-stepped inverted pagoda on the upper and a two-stepped square base on the ground. There is a arch niche in each side of the central pillar. The east one contains the statues of a Buddha and two disciples (the one on the north side is lost) and two bodhisattva statues flanking the entrance (the one on the north side is preserved, though damaged partly). The niche has a painted lintel in bas-relief with a dragon-headed beam and pillars decorated with lotus motifs.
Constructed in the Early Sui and Five Dynasties, renovated in the Qing dynasty, this cave consits of the front chamber, corridor and main chamber. The main chamber is square in plan. It has a central pillar and a gabled ceiling in the front and a flat ceiling in the back which is connected with the central pillar in the shape of Mt. Sumeru. The east slope of the gabled ceiling shows the Chapter of the Universal Gate of Avalokitesvara in the Lotus sutra (scenes of salvations of Avalokitesvara) in two horizontal bands, one above the other, and the west slope is used to render Thirty-three Manifestastions of Avalokitesvara recorded in the same chapter of the Lotus sutra in the same compostion.The center of the flat ceiling features a square in which round draperies are painted around the top of the central pillar. The four corners each have a dhyana Buddha (the one in the northeast is lost), and the center motif is surrounded by the thousand Buddha motifs. The central pillar
jian in width. There is no eave under the flat base of the upper storey. This kind of depiction is only seen among the Early Tang paintings.There is no window or wall between the pillars of the upper and lower storeys, which is replaced by the hanging curtains. The ground of the platform is paved with flowered tiles, similar to the customs of the Tang dynasty. On the space above the east entrance is a preaching scene, and on either side of it is a preaching scene of a seated Buddha. The south side of the entrance contains a standing Buddha and two bodhisattva in the center and a row of male donors of the Five Dynasties below (obscured). The north side contains a eleven-headed Avalokitesvara illustration in the center, and a row of male donors painted in the Five Dynasties (obscured). On the lower parts of the north and east walls in the main chamber are male donor figures, most of them have been obscured. Judged from the numbers in the surviving inscriptions, people who sponsored
Constructed in the Early Tang and renovated in the Five Dynasties, this is a small hall cave with a truncated pyramidal ceiling. There is a niche with double recesses dug out of the west wall, containing a seven-stuccoed figures; a Buddha, two disciples, two bodhisattvas and two heavenly kings. The heavenly kings have features of a non-Chinese foreigner; high nose bridges, thick eyebrows and big eyes. The ceiling center has a pattern of twisted vines. The drapery around the center extends to the four slopes. The decorative borders of twisted vines connect the the four walls with the four slopes. There is a preaching scene of Maitreya in the center of the south wall, which is surrouded by the thousand Buddha motifs. The north wall presents an illustration of the Amitabha sutra in the center, also surrounded by the thousand Buddha motifs. There are three preaching scenes above the entrance on the east wall. The south side of the entrance depicts a preaching scene of the Medicine
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