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.
and hands have been damaged) and wearing a kasaya with the right shoulder exposed. The folds were made by sticking on strips of mud and inscribing natural and smooth lines. The exterior of the niche is divided into an upper level and a lower level, which are respectively covered with ten attendant bodhisattvas. On the top of the niche are four apsaras and Buddha's halos. The niche lintel is decorated with reborn children on lotuses and a dragon head on each end. There was a heavenly king alongside each side of the niche. Now there is only one left. This is the only painted statue of lokapala of the Northern Dynasties at Mogao. Above the niche are molded statues stuck to the surface, and below, along the edge of the niche are donors of the Northern Wei (obscured). At the bottom of the base are donors of the Song dynasty (obscured). There other three sides each have a upper niche and a lower niche. The two upper niches on the south and north sides are shaped like the Han Chinese city gates
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.
is shaped like Mt. Sumeru: it consists of the upper part of an inverted round seven-storeyed pagoda and a two stepped square throne on the ground. The upper six storeys are decorated with the small molded Buddhas and lowest storey contains a lotus with four dragons around the lotus stem. A niche is dug out in each of the four sides of the throne. The arch niche in the east side contains the statues of one Buddha and two disciples made in the Qing dynasty. On each side out of the niche is a bodhisattva statue renovated in the Qing dynasty. below the niche are images of bhiksus, bhiksunis, male and female donors. The arch niche in the south side contains a Buddha statue and a disciple, made in the Qing dynasty. On the wall inside the niche are two incarnated children, and on each side out of the niche is a statue of a bodhisattva, renovated in the Qing dynasty. Below the niche are male and female donor figure and yakshas, painted in the Sui dynasty. The arch niche in the north side contains
bodhisattvas and two heavenly kings stand in order. There, heavenly kings wear chain mail and tabards which can protect the legs in battles. There is no such example in other preaching scenes in Mogao. On the walls of the niche are eight disciples and two bodhisattvas in gorgeous costumes. An image of Avalokitesvara is painted on either side of the niche. The north wall is covered with the illustration of Amitayurbhavana-sutra with the pure land in the center and two side scenes illustrating the stories of the Sixteen meditations and of the stories Between King Bimbisāra and Ajātaatru, similar to the illustration of the Amitabha in composition. This illustration creates an elegant ambiance mainly in blue, green and black, focuses on the incarnated boys on the lotuses in the pond, auspicious birds and beasts, as well as musicians. It represents a style of the same themes of the High Tang dynasty.
respectively on Ksitigabha, on the Ten Wheels, on the Period of Termination, and on the Six Perfections. In composition, the sutra illutration is largely divided into four areas: 1. the center for the preaching scene; 2. the middle of the west side for the salvations of Ksitigabha; 3. The upper part of the west side for the manifestations of Ksitigabha (some scenes are rendered on the upper of the east side), according to the sutras, Ksitigabha has fouty-four manifestations; 4. The east side for the Candala of the Kshatriya class (The Jataka of King Elephant is on the west side in this area). The north wall was completely occupied by the Amitabha sutra illustration. In the center is the preaching scene of the Buddha and on two sides are bodhisattvas listening to Buddha's preaching. The architecture in this illustration is very special. Above the water are platforms and two side corridors, the pavillion with an east Asian hip and gable roof consists of two storeys, three jian in depth and three
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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