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
This cave was constructed during the Datong era in the Western Wei (according to the inscriptions on the north wall which has the dates of the fourth year and fifth year of the Datong era of the Western Wei, (538-548) and it is the dated earliest cave among the Dunhuang caves.The main chamber is square in plan and has a truncated pyramidal ceiling. A square altar was made in the center in the Yuan dynasty, and there are four symmetircal cells on each side walls. Inside or at the entrance of some cells are the remnants of the pagoda of the Yuan dynasty. The ceiling center highlights a parasol design, while the four slopes are covered with the images from Chinese mythology such as the traditional Chinese gods, and protectors of Buddhist laws, Mani Pearl, Guardian warriors, apsaras, god of Thunder, auspicious beasts, Fuxi and Nüwa, and etc. The bottom circle of the four slopes contains thirty-six monks in meditation in huts or in the mountain forests where all kinds of animals
Constructed in the Northern Zhou dynasty, this cave consists of a main chamber, a corridor and a front chamber. The main chamber is square in plan and has a truncated pyramidal ceiling. In the center of the ceiling is a painted motif of laternendecke with lotuses and draperies extending to the four slopes. In the center of the west slope are a Lotus and a Mani Pearl flanked by six musicians and apsaras on either side. Below them is the niche beam decorated with motifs of flame, lotus and incarnated boys. The scenes on the south and east slopes form a complete Sattva Jataka. The scenes on the south slope mainly include the episodes of Prince Sattva leaving the palace, hunting, and taking a break. And those on the east slope include episodes of feeding the tiger and building a pagoda. Below are celestial musicians, six apsaras, and draperies. The north slope is devoted to the Samaka Jataka, which consists of the episodes of worshipping the blind parents (on the west side) and King
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
Located on the middle section of the Southern Area at Mogao, this cave was constructed in the High Tang and renovated in the Middle Tang, Song and Yuan dynasties. It is one of the representative cave of the Tang dynasty. The main chamber, square in plan, has a truncated pyramidal ceiling and a niche in the west wall. The ceiling center depicts a peony surrounded by cloud patterns. On the four sides are various decorative patterns, such as the motif of two partly overlapped squares, half medallions, diamond lozenges, medallions, and draperies in red, blue and green colors, looking bright and fresh. The four slopes are covered with the Thousand Buddha motifs. In the center of the south wall is a preaching scene (two pieces taken away by Langdon Warner in 1924). The central statue is lost, while the back halo in bas relief as well as one disciple and two bodhisattvas have survived. The ceiling of the niche highlights a preaching scene of Maitreya, in which two disciples, four
Constructed in the reign time of Empress Wu Zetian in the Tang dynasty, this is a hall cave with a truncated pyramidal ceiling. The ceiling center features a large medallion surrounded by the draperies of twisted vines and half medallions that extend to the four slopes covered with the thousand Buddha motifs (a part of the south slope is damaged). The central Buddha is the original Early Tang work, the other statues including disciples, bodhisattvas and guardian warriors were all renovated or repainted in the Qing dyansty. The arch ceiling of the niche is decorated with double-layered railing against which is a row of bodhisattvas looking downwards. Behind them is the vast sky with apsaras, clouds, flowers, palaces, and fairy ladies. The sutra illustration on the south wall was first identified as that of the Lotus Sutra and finally as that of the Ten Wheel Sutra, which this text adopts. This sutra is mainly about the belief in Ksitigabha bodhisattva and it consists of four parts
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
The main chamber is square in plan with a central altar, and the front chamber is rectangular in plan. Both are connected by a long corridor. In the Maitreya sutra illustration in this cave, there is an inscription in ancient Tibetan and an image of a wedding ceremony of a Tibetan man with a Chinese woman, from which it can be determined that it was constructed in the period when Guazhou was occupied by the Tibetans and Shazhou was not yet, namely from the 11th year of Dali era (776) to the second year of Jianzhong (781). Part of the ceiling of the main chamber has collapsed, and the front chamber was renovated in the Five Dynasties. The original paintings are well preserved. On the east wall is a Mandala of Eight Bodhisattvas, on the south wall is an Amitayus sutra illustration, and on the north wall is a Maitreya sutra illustration. On both sides of the illustration are single images of Avalokitesvara, Mahasthamaprapdta and Kistigabha bodhisattvas. On the two sides of the entrance
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