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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
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 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
The niche in the south side contains a statue of the Buddha and two bodhisattvas (renovated in the Qing dynasty). On each side out of the niche is a statue of bodhisattva (the one on the west side is lost). The niche in the west side contains a central Buddha flanked by two disciples renovated in the Qing dynasty. The niche in the north side also contains a three-figure group renovated in the Qing dynasty, and the two statues out of the niche are lost. Beneath the paintings on the north side of the central pillar below the niche can be seen some words "June 11 in the fourth year of Kaihuang era," which indicates when this cave was constructed (around 584 CE), hence the name "Cave of the fourth year of Kaihuang era." This inscription with exact date is not only a reliable evidence for dating the Sui dynasty caves, but also a criterion for studying the artistic styles of the caves of that period. A large niche with a double recesses dug out of the west wall contains a five-figure group
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
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
in the west wall are illustrations of Manjusri and Samantabhadra. In the front chamber, the south side and north side of the east wall respectively depict Vidudabha and Vaisravana, who protect the paradise of Buddhism.
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