, 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
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
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.
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
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
This cave was constructed in the Tang dynasty and its corridor was renovated in the Song dynasty. It has a truncated pyramidal ceiling and a west niche. The ceiling of the main chamber features a medallion pattern formed by four cloud motifs and the draperies extend to the four slopes which are covered with the thousand Buddha motifs with a seated Buddha in the center. The tent-like ceiling of the west niche contains a five figure group: one Buddha, two bodhisattvas and two disciples. The U shaped altar has six small frames decorated with musicians. The center of the niche ceiling highlights a painted medallion. The west slope is decorated with draperies on the upper and two screen paintings below, which illustrate Buddha's life stories including the bathing scene of the prince by nine dragons. The north slope shows the same design as the south one, but the screen paintings illustrate the Three Assembly of Maitreya, namely the Maitreya sutra illustration. The edge of the niche
with the Early Tang sutra illustrations, the combination of the figures, the layout of the buildings, and the treatment of the perspectives displayed greater artistic refinement, especially the perspective. The hall in the center is the main body of the architecture, and it looks grand when painted in a low angle. Those buildings on the two sides are in a high angle, looking vast. The pavilions in the back are depicted at the eye level, looking deep. In this way, the focus is on the symmetry axis, slightly upward, creating a focus perspective, and making it a perfect patchwork of palace groups.On the space above the entrance in the east wall is a pureland illustration. On the south side are four bodhisattvas including Kistigabha and Avalokitesvara above the Samantabhadra illustration, the lower part is obscured. On the north side are four bodhisattvas including Bhaisajyaguru Bodhisattva above a Manjusri illustration, and below is a row of female donor figures of the Song dynasty(obscured
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
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