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Mogao Grottoes
Situated at a strategic point along the Silk Route, at the crossroads of trade as well as religious, cultural and intellectual influences, the 492 cells and cave sanctuaries in Mogao Grottoes are famous for their statues and wall paintings, spanning 1,000 years of Buddhist art. The Mogao Grottoes contain priceless paintings, sculptures, some 50,000 Buddhist scriptures, historical documents, textiles, and other relics that first stunned the world in the early 1900sDunhuang joss, all painted sculptures made of mud, are divided into single and group ones, and have vivid shapes and different presences with the tallest to 33m and shortest to 0.1m only.
In Dunhuang’s 492 grottoes, almost every one of them has flying gods. Flying gods in early caves are stocky with a big mouth and big ears, which is evidently influenced by the flying gods in the Indic and Western Region. However, the artistic image since the Tang Dynasty (618—907) has completely had the Chinese style, which is without wings and feathers but with flyaway dress and colored ribbons.
According to local legend, in 366 AD a Buddhist monk, Le Zun (lè zun) , had a vision of a thousand Buddhas and inspired the excavation of the caves he envisioned. The number of temples eventually grew to more than a thousand. As Buddhist monks valued austerity in life, they sought retreat in remote caves to further their quest for enlightenment. From the 4th until the 14th century, Buddhist monks at Dunhuang collected scriptures from the west while many pilgrims passing through the area painted murals inside the caves. The cave paintings and architecture served as aids t o meditation, as visual representations of the quest for enlightenment, as mnemonic devices, and as teaching tools to inform illiterate Chinese about Buddhist beliefs and stories.
The murals cover 450,000 square feet. The caves were walled off sometime after the 11th century after they had become a repository for venerable, damaged and used manuscripts and hallowed paraphernalia.
Buddhist cave art originated in the second century B.C.E. in Maharashtra, India - an area of commercial imp ortance for trade flows between north and south India. Between the inception at the older site at Ajanta and the completion of further ones at a nearby site at Ellora in the eighth century, some 63 caves were excavated and painted.
With 492 painted grottoes, the Mogao Grottoes have more than eight times as many grottoes as those at India's primary two sites. That said, the Mogao Grottoes should not be understood as an isolated endeavor within China. They are merely the best example of an astonishingly widespread Buddhist cave movement in this nation.
 
 
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