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The construction of this middle sized hall cave with a truncated pyramidal ceiling was prior to the tenth year of Xiantong in the Late Tang (869) and it was renovated in the Five Dynasties.There is an ink inscription on the east wall above the entrance which reads: "Spondored by Monk Suoyi a Buddhist official from the Jinguangming Temple." There are altogether 10 sutra illustrations in the main chamber. The south and north sides out of the west niches repectively depict the illustrations of Samantabhadra and Manjusri. The upper part of the south wall is filled with the illustrations of the Lotus sutra the Amitayur-dhyana Sutra and the Maitreya sutra from west to east. The upper part of the north wall is filled with the Garland Sutra Sutra of the Medicine Buddha Sutra on the Questions of Devas and The north and south of the entrance in the east wall are respectively the illustration of Vimalakirti sutra and Panikarasuttau sutra. The spaces below the illustrations on the south north and east wall all are divided into three for four strips of screen paintings illustrating the stories in the corresponding sutras. The north and south walls of the corridor are painted with donor figures. The south and north side of the entrance wall in the front chamber respectively show the Virūdhaka (king of the south) and Vaisramana (King of the north).
Constructed between the fifth year of Dazhong era and the third year of Xiantong era (851-862), this cave served as a memorial cave for Hong Bian, a Monastic Official in Hexi region in the Late Tang dynasty. It is located in the north wall of the corridor of Cave 16 and was discovered by Taoist priest Wang Yuanlu who lived at Mogao in the 26th year of Guangxu era of the Qing dynsty (1900). It is called the Library Cave because there were over 50,000 cultural relics including Buddhist scriptures, social documents, silk paintings, embroideries, and Buddist utensils dating back to the fourth to the fourteenth centuries. The cave is square in plan with a truncated pyramidal ceiling. There are no murals on the four slopes or the ceiling center. An octangular altar is built in front of the north wall, on which a statue of the monk, Hong Bian sits. The west wall contains a stele recording that Hong Bian was appointed the highest Buddhist official in Hexi region in the fifth year of Dazhong
Located in the middle section of the Southern Area of Mogao this cave was constructed in the High Tang and renovated in the Middle Tang and Five Dynasties. The main chamber has a truncated pyramidal ceiling with a large lotus pattern in the ceiling center. Four illustrations of the Maitreya sutra the Universal Gate of the Avalokitesvara sutra the Amitabha sutra and the Usnisa Vijaya Dharani Sutra are respectively painted on the west south north and east slopes. The west niche has a grouping of seven -stucco figures renovated in the Qing dynasty. The stories start on the north wall then continue on the east wall and end on the south wall. All represent the episodes in the Lotus Sutra. The corridor has a flat ceiling on which part of the illustration of Defeating Mara has survived. Those paintings of the Five Dynasties on the south wall of the corridor are about the god of the sun in uncertain Esoteric Buddhist scriptures and the others are all damaged. Part of the thousand Buddha motifs of the Five Dynasties has survived on the ceiling of the front chamber. The space above the entrance wall is filled with draperies and Buddhas in meditation of the Five Dynasties (with a Tangut inscription). To the south side of the entrance is part of a heavenly king (most blurred). The space on the entrance door was originally filled with draperies an apsara and a heavenly king of the Five Dynasties and now almost all of them have been covered. The cell in the south wall of the front chamber is numbered cave 24.
The hall cave was sponsored by the couple of Cao Yuanzhong, military governor of the Gui-yi-jun regime as their family temple in the tenth century, part of the murals were renovated in the Song dynasty. It is located at the lower level on the middle section of the Southern Area at Mogao and it is one of the largest caves at Mogao, consisting of a front chamber, a corridor and a main chamber. There is a two-stepped central altar in the center of the hall. It is called the hall of Manjusri in Dunhuang documents. The main chamber has a truncated pyramidal ceiling, and the ceiling center features a large parasol motif, in the center of the parasol are five lotuses, a entwining dragon and parrots. On the four slopes are preaching scenes surrounded by the thousand Buddha motifs. The four arch recesses in the four corners of the ceiling respectively depict the four great heavenly kings, namely, Dhrtarastra in the southeast recess, Virudhaka (mostly damaged) in southwest, Virupaksa
The date of construction is not clear and it is supposed that this cave was constructed in the Early Tang period. This cave consists of the front chamber with a gabled ceiling which partly survives and the main chamber which is square in plan with a truncated pyramidal ceiling. The themes of the murals are mainly Buddhist historical stories. The painted statues were renovated in the Five Dynasties Western Xia and the Qing dynasty. The ceiling center depicts a large medallion surrounded by the draperies which extend to the four slopes and the four slopes are covered with the thousand Buddha motifs. There is a niche with a flat ceiing in the west wall which contains a five-stucco grouping all renovated in the Qing dynasty. The central figure in the niche is The Buddha seated with legs pendent flanked by two disciples two bodhisattvas who stand on a lotus throne. On the ceiling of the niche is a parasol with Bodhi trees and two apsaras. The wall is covered with the mountains in bas relief (renovated in the Qing dynasty) which is connected with the landscape in the murals on the south and north sides out of the niche. Above the niche are Buddhas and clouds. A Buddha seated in meditation was painted below the niche in the Western Xia. Underliying this layer are remains of murals of the Early Tang and the Five dynasties.The upper section of the south wall is decorated with the Thousand-Buddha motif and the middle section is covered with three stories of Buddhist history from the west side to the east side 1. Two Stone Buddha's floating on the River in the Western Jin Dynasty 2. a Golden Image Appearing from the River in Yangzhou in the Eastern Jin Dynasty and 3. Emperor Yang of the Sui Dynasty Welcoming Master Tanyan. The lower section has images of seven Bodhisattvas. The upper part of the north wall is covered with the Thousand Buddha motif and on the middle part are five stories of Buddhist history from west to east: 1. Emperor Wu of the Western Han obtaining two golden images from the Huns and sending Zhang Qian on a diplomatic mission to explore the western region; 2. The pond where Sakyamuni washed his kasaya and the stone he dried his Kasaya; 3. Fo Tucheng's miraculous events; 4. King Asoka worshiping the heritics'pagoda; and 5. Kang Senghui's magic power. The lower part has images of seven bodhisattvas. The space above the entrance wall is filled with a Thousand-Buddha motif above eleven Buddhist figures including Bodhisattva Maitreya and Akasobhya painged in the Five Dyansties. The south side of the entrance has paintings about Buddhist disciplines in the upper part and four Buddha seated in meditation below. The north side of the entrance wall depicts Buddhist disciplines in the upper and three seated Buddhas below. These pictures painted in a group to show how Buddhist monks made various vows to obey Buddhist disciplines based on the Mahanirvana Sutra translated by Dharmaksema in the Northern Liang dynasty.The top of the corridor is decorated with medallions painted in the Western Xia and each side wall has three attendant Bodhisattvas. The west slope of the front chamber is decorated with three pictures of the Western Xia medallions (damaged). The south side of the west wall depicts the illustration of Samantabhadra while the opposite part shows an illustration of Manjusri (blurred). Beneath the surface layer there are traces of Early Tang and Five Dynasties murals. A small cave is dug out of the upper section in both the north and south wall. The north one with the Western Xia murals is numbered cave 324 while the south one with a preaching scene of the Western Xia is numbered cave 325. The main space of both of the side walls and the entrance wall are respectively occupied with the historical stories of Buddhism and Buddhist sacred lands as well as Buddhist disciplines. There themes are rare in both the sculptures and murals in other grottoes in China and also very rare in the Mogao murals. The appearance of these murals marked the Sinicization of Buddhistm and so they are of high artistic and historical value.
Constructed in the Early Tang and renovated in the Five Dynasties and Qing dynasty this cave has a truncated pyramidal ceiling. In the ceiling center is a pattern of a large medallion composed of lotuses in the center looking like a five-colored Dharma wheel and it is surrounded by circles of various motifs such as the clouds honeysuckles flowers triangles and draperies.The four slopes each depict three apsaras flying around the center in a same direction. At the bottom are the thousand Buddha motifs. A niche is dug out of the west wall containing a central seated Buddha flanked by two disciples and four bodhisattvas. All except the torso costume and the diamond throne were renovated or painted in the Later Qing dynasty. On the two sides of the niche the thousand Buddha motifs are painted in the upper and incarnated boys on lotuses are painted below. There is a desk with offerings on it and six bodhisattvas at the bottom of the west wall most of which are blurred. The upper part of the south wall presents an illustration of the Amitabha sutra in which the pavilions and platforms are separated by green water and the buildings are connected by various bridges. Amitabha is in the center and on the platforms on both sides of Amitabha are groups of bodhisattvas respectively led by Avalokitesvara or Mahasthamaprapta. On the platform below the central Buddha are bodhisattvas disciples and music and dance scenes. In the pond there are different magic birds including Kalavinka.The lower part of the south wall depicts three Buddhist nuns and twenty-three female donor figures. The upper part of the north wall is occupied with an illustration of the Amitabha sutra (two pieces were taken away by Langdon Warner) which was divided into two sections from top down. The center of the upper section shows a preaching scene of Maitreya Bodhisattva in Tusita Heaven based on The Sutra of Maitreya's Rebirth up in the Heaven. The other parts show the three Assemblies of Maitreya under the dragon flower trees. The first assembly is under the preaching scene in the Tusita Heaven and the second and third are respectively painted on the left and right sides. The lower part of the north wall contains seventeen male donor figures. There are four preaching scenes in the space above the entrance wall. The north and south sides of the entrance wall respectively depict a preaching scene in the upper part and female and male donor figures in the middle. There is a row of donor figures and chariots drawn by oxen. The tent-like ceiling of the corridor has story paintings of the Five Dynasties in the center and five Buddhas in meditation on both slopes. On the south wall are three Buddhist monks and on the north a male donor figure. The ceiling of the front chamber is occupied by the illustrations of Amogha-pasa thousand-armed and thousand-eyed Avalokitesvara and Cintamani-cakra all partly damaged in the space above the entrance in the west wall there is an inscription of the Five Dynasties and on its both sides are scenes of Vaisravana meeting Nezha. Both the north and south sides of the entrance depict a scene of eight dragon kings worshipping the Buddha painted in the Five dyansties though obscured. There are traces of disciples and bodhisattvas on both the north and south walls in the front chamber.
Constructed in the Sui dynasty and partly repainted in the Song and Western Xia dynasties this cave has a truncated pyramidal ceiling and a niche in each of the south west and north walls. This cave is also known as the Three-niche cave. The ceiling features laternendecke motifs and lotuses the center is a three-rabbit motif. In the corners of the motifs are boy-like apsaras and out of the corners are winged beasts. The outerframe of the square center is decorated with the patterns consisting of honeysuckles lions and connected pearls. More outside are draperies extending to the four slopes where large-sized sutra illustration are depicted. Each scene is separated by the trees flowers temples fountains or lotus ponds and clouds. However the density and discolor of these paintings on the four slopes make it very hard to decipher therefore opinions about the contents of the four slopes differ. There are mainly two opinions: 1. they are painted according to the Lotus Sutra and 2. they are painted based on the Lotus Sutra and the Nirvana Sutra. This description accepts the first opinion. The west niche has a double-recessed entrance with a square bottom and an arch top housing a seven-figure group: a seated Buddha two disciples four bodhisattvas. There upper of the two sides out of the niche is devoted to the Vimalakirti sutra illustration the image of Vimalakirti on the south and that of Manjusri on the north. Below them are five disciples and four bodhisattvas. On the lower part of the west wall are pictures of the offerings and bodhisattvas painted in the Song dynasty. Both the south and north walls have a square shallow niche in the center housing the statues of a seated Buddha and two bodhisattvas. There are several marks of sovatthika (meaning auspicious) on the lower brim of the kasaya. Around the niche are thousand Buddha motifs. below the niche are bodhisattvas painted in the Song dynasty. There is a preaching scene on the space above the entrance in the east wall below the preaching scene is an inscription of the Song dynasty (already blurred). To the north of the inscription are two male donors of the Song dynasty and to the south are one female donor (vague) and a bhiksuni (Buddhist nun). The upper part of the south side of the entrance is covered with the thousand Buddha motifs of the Sui dynasty and the lower part with six male donors painted in the Song dynasty. Along the entrance is a treasured pagoda of the Song dynasty. The north side of the entrance depicts the thousand Buddha motif of the Sui dynasty in the upper and four female donors and a bodhisattva of the Song dynasty below. Along the entrance is also a treasured pagoda of the Song dynasty. The corridor was repainted in the Western Xia. A medallion pattern is in the center and the draperies are painted on two slopes. Each of the south and north walls have two bodhisattvas. The front chamber was repainted in the Western Xia. On the west slopes are traces of some medallion motifs beneath which are the Sui dynasty paintings. There is a small niche dug out of the space above the entrance in the west wall which contains paintings of bodhisattvas and flowers. Out of the niche is a temple image. There are two preaching scenes on the upper part of both the south and north sides of the entrance and there are vague paintings of donor figures below the preaching scenes. On the north and south walls are part of the draperies and halos. There are donor figures of the Song dynasty beneath the top layer of the paintings.
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 above the entrance in the east wall illustrates the contents of the Chapter of Buddhist Paradise the south side deals with the Vimakakirti sutra illustration and the Chapter on the Expediency and the north side with the scene of Manjusri and the kings princes and ministers from various peoples and kingdoms. The lower part of the picture is blurred. The north wall is devoted to an illustration of the Amitayus sutra with two side scenes in which the lower part is lost. The south wall depicts the Lotus sutra illustration also with two side scenes illustrating the Fables of the Magic City and the lower part is lost. On the north side of entrance of the west wall in the front chamber are traces of most part of the heavenly kings. The south wall is numbered as Cave 105 while the north as Cave 104. There is an image of Kistigabha on the south wall and an image of Vaisravana on the north wall of the corridor partly blurred.
Constructed in the Late Tang this is a hall cave with a truncated pyramidal ceiling and has been badly damaged. There is a tent-like niche in the west wall in which the original statues have been damaged. There is is a pattern composed of a crossed vajra and a medallion on the niche top. The west slope in the niche has a picture of three seated Buddhas (only two preserved) and an incarnated boy the other four slopes each have a picture of three seated Buddhas. The west north and south walls in the niche are divided into a upper section and a lower section. All the upper section exhibit a picture of three seated Buddhas but on the west wall only two are preserved. The lower sections are all covered with screen paintings. The four screen paintings on the west show six disciples while the six screen paintings on both the north and the south walls each has a bodhisattva. The brim of the niche is decorated with vines and pomegranate mofits. Below the niche is a votive text flanked 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).
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