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Constructed in the Jinglong era (707-710) namely the end of the Early Tang and the beginning of the High Tang this cave was constructed as the family temple by the Yin Family at Dunhuang. Part of the paintings was renovated in the Later Tang and the Five Dyansties and the statues were renovated in the Qing dynasty. The main chamber has a truncated pyramidal ceiling which features a medallion pattern in the center enclosed by the twisted vines and draperies that extend to the four slopes covered with the thousand Buddha motifs (partly damaged). There is a niche with a flat entrance in the west wall housing a seated Buddha renovated in the Qing dynasty and painted images of four bodhisattvas and eight disciples. A bodhisattva is painted on each side of the niche. The south side of the adobe platform on the north side of the niche has an inscription with the portraits and titles of the Yin Family members Yin Ciqiong and Yin Ciwang. Inside the central frame on the south wall is a preaching scene in which Mt. Sumeru is painted in the upper with eight temple halls stand on it. The two sides and below the preaching scene are covered with more than 30 scenes of figures and buildings in the landscape context and each scene has one or several cartouches with unidentified words. The middle part below the preaching scene is a cartouche with some words identified. The lower parts show severe flaking and loss of paint. There is an alien-styled figure on the lower right side. Opinions about the contents of the murals differ: some consider it was executed according to the Lotus Sutra while some think it is based on the Usnisa Vijaya Dharani Sutra. We accept that the content is according to the USnisa Vijaya Dharani Sutra. The whole north wall is covered with the Amitayus sutra illustration which consists of three parts: the pure land of Amitabha in the center the story between Binbisara and Ajatsatru on the west side and the Sixteen Meditations on the east side. The whole east wall is devoted to the illustration of the Universal Gate of the Lotus Sutra. Right above the entrance is a preaching scene of Sakyamuni on the Vulture Peak. The upper parts of the both sides of the entrance are used for scenes of Avalokitesvara saving people from disasters while the lower parts have images of the thirty-three manifestations of Avalokitesvara. Along the entrance on the north side is an image of bhiksu Hong Ren painted in the Five Dynasties. The tent-like ceiling of the corridor has two slopes containing the images of Ksitigabha and Ten Kings painted in the Later Tang. The front chamber was repainted in later dynasties and it is severely damaged.
Constructed in the Yuan dynasty (A.D.1279-1368) this is a small hall cave with a truncated pyramidal ceiling whose center in bas relief is a design of four painted dragons (the central part is damaged) . The four slopes are covered with connected fountain patterns (those on the east slope are partially lost and those on the north and south slopes are blurred); and the west niche contains an eight-armed Avalokitesvara of the Qing dynasty. In the center of the south wall is a standing eleven-headed thousand-armed and thousand-eyed Avalokitesvara. Each of the upper corners is filled with an apsara. The east side of the central Avalokitesvara has an image of Indra above a seated deva and the opposite west side has a seated deva above Brahma. In the center of the north wall is a standing eleven-headed thousand-armed and thousand-eyed Avalokitesvara. The east side of the central image depicts Vasistha above the images of a three-headed and six-armed guarding warrior and pig-headed Vinayaka and the opposite west side show Lakşmī above a three-headed eight-armed guarding warrior and Elephant-headed Vinayaka. Each of the upper corner is filled with an apsara. The space above the entrance displays five seated Buddhas. On the north side of the entrance wall is a scene of Avalokitesvara offering treasures to the poor and on the south side of the entrance is a scene of Avalokitesvara with a bottle in hand giving water to the hungry ghosts. There is no corridor and front-chamber.
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 era (851). There is a painting of two trees of the Late Tang on the north wall. Under the tree on the west side is an standing upasika (holding a scepter and towel). A cloth bag is hung on the tree. Under the tree on the east side is a Buddhsit nun (bhiskuni holding a silk fan) and a water kettle is hang on the tree. There are no wall paintings on the south and east walls no corridor and no front chamber.
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.
Located on the middle section of the Southern area of Mogao constructed in the Early Tang and renovated in the Late Tang this is a hall cave of medium size with a truncated pyramidal ceiling. The ceiling cener highlight a pattern of two coiled dragon and lotuses with draperies extending to the four slopes. There are asparas flying around the central design (sootiness) and the thousand Buddha motif on the four slopes are black due to sootiness.There west niche with a double-recessed entrance contains a seven-figure group of statues: a seated Buddha two disciples and four bodhisatvas (one lost). The walls in the inner niche are decorated with an aureole of flame motifs halos and on both sides are a disciple and an apsara. The top of the outer niche is a niche beam decorated with flames and lotuses and there is an apsara on either side. The west wall in the niche contain a niche pillar and a pensive bodhisattva while the north and south walls respectively show a bodhisattva. There are six apsaras on the niche beam who are flying toward the central offerings. The north and south sides out of the niche are devoted to the Conception and the Great Departure respectively both containing two bodhisattvas in the lower part. Beneath the niche are the offerings flanked by five bodhisattvas on either side.Each of the south and north walls are covered with a central preaching scene amid the thousand Buddha motifs. The south wall also depicts a row of female donors of the Early Tang (blurred) and the opposite north a row of female donors of the Late Tang (blurred).The space above the entrance in the east wall is divided into the upper and lower sections. The upper is covered with the thousand Buddha motifs and there was a painting of seven Buddhas of the Early Tang in the lower part (destroyed when the corridor was renovated in the Late Tang). The corridor has a tent-like ceiling which was rebuilt in the Late Tang. In the center is an illustration of the Medicine Buddha. The north and south sides of the entrance consist of three parts: on the upper parts are thousand Buddha motifs on the middle ones are preaching scenes and the lower parts are destroyed. In the front chamber the space above the entrance in the west wall is filled with the Maitreya sutra illustration which is flanked by the picture of the Vidudabha (king of the south blurred) on the south side of the entrance and that of the Vaisravana (king of the north blurred)on the north all painted in the Late Tang period.
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 in the northwest and Vaisravana in the northeast recess. On the south north and east walls are eleven sutra illustration altogether and below these illustrations are Buddha's life stories and donor figures. The whole west wall is covered with a large-sized map of Mt Wutai (13 meters long and 3.6 meters high). On the upper part of each sidewall are five sutra illustrations below them are thirty-three screen paintings illustrating Buddha's life stories. There are also tens of donor figures of the Cao family and inscriptions preserved on the east north and south walls. The statues on the central altar are completely destroyed only the traces of the paws of a lion can be seen on the back screen on which traces of some images are visible. On the upper part of the east wall is a Vimalakirti sutra illustration and below are donor figures. On the ceiling of the corridor is a six-fold medallion pattern with draperies on the two slopes. On the south and north walls of the corridor are images of Tejaprobaha Buddha and Eleven Star Gods the zodiac and alms-begging monks and nuns. There are inscriptions in both Tangut and Chinese. In the Yuan dynasty the Huangqing Temple was built in front of the cave which was renovated in 1351 by Suleiman Khan King of Xining.
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.
Located on the upper level of the Southern Area at Mogao this cave was constructed in the Late Sui dynasty and renovated in the Five Dynasties and Qing dynasty. Its main chamber is a hall cave with a truncated pyramidal ceiling. The ceiling center features a pattern of lotuses and twisted vines around it are draperies with triangular and pearled borders. The four slopes are covered with the thousand Buddha motifs. There is a double-recessed niche in the west wall containing a seven-figure group: a central Buddha seated with legs pendent two disciples (already lost) and four bodhisattvas (renovated in the Qing dynasty). On the top of the niche are 12 flying apsaras in different positions. On the wall behind the Buddha statue is a nimbus of flames and incarnated boys flanked by nine bodhisattvas on either side. Below them are images of Vasistha and Mrgasirsa. The outer niche has a lintel decorated with flames and lotuses which is divided into the upper and lower level by pearled borders. The upper one contains a Mani Pearl with flames and the lower one has a seated bodhisattva. On both sides are lotuses with twisted stems. On the The top of the ceiling are six apsaras while on the two side parts are dragon-headed niche beam and lotus-decorated niche pillars. The south and north sides out of the niche are divided into three levels one above another respectively for heavenly palaces seven seated Buddhas and male female donors and attendants from top down. On the top of the four walls are apsaras leaning against the railings of heavenly palaces. The south wall is divided into three levels from top down respectively ; Upper with ten musician apsaras and fifteen seated Buddhas a central preaching scene of Avalokitesvara flanked by 18 dhyana Buddhas and lower with 26 female donors in high-waist skirts of the Sui dynasty and nine donor figures of the Five Dynasties. The north wall is also divided into three levels: Upper with ten apsaras leaning against the railings of heavenly palaces and fifteen seated Buddhas on the upper a central preacing scene in which the Buddha wears a crown with a manifested Buddha image and eight dhyana Buddhas on either side and lower with 47 donors of the Sui dynasty and 28 male donors of the Five Dynasties. The top part of the east wall contains 17 preaching scenes each wtih one Buddha flanked by two bodhisattvas. Above the entrance is a picture of seven Buddhas painted in the Sui dynasty. On each side of the entrance are eight dhyana Buddhas above the entrance are oxen horse-drawn chariots and several Five Dynasty male donors. There are 116 preaching scenes altogether in this cave in each the central seated Buddha holds different mudras and has different bodhi trees and canopies. This cave has the largest number of preaching scenes at Mogao. On the top of the corridor is a picture of Ksitigabha and the Ten Kings painted in the Five Dynasties. There is an inscription with the words "Monk Daoming." The north and south sides are used for the illustrations of Manjusri and Samantabhadra each containing female donors below (most of which are obscured). The murals in the front chamber all date back to the Five Dynasties. On the two sides of the entrance in the west wall are scenes of Vaishravana attending a preaching scene. On the upper part to the south of the entrance depicts an image of Amogha-pasa on the middle an illustration of Panikarasuttau and on the north side an illustration of the Amitabha sutra most of which is preserved. On the north and south walls are traces of the disciples bodhisattvas and donors most of them are obscured.
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