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Inspiration Stories

The Mogao Caves

by CHN Museums 03 Aug 2023


Mogao Caves, commonly known as Thousand-Buddha Cave, are renowned for its exquisite murals and sculptures. They were first built in former Qin period of the Sixteen Kingdoms, and have undergone the construction of the Sixteen Kingdoms, the Northern Dynasty, the Sui Dynasty, the Tang Dynasty, the Five Dynasties, the Western Xia Regime, the Yuan Dynasty, etc. With 735 caves, 45,000 square meters of murals, and 2,415 colorful clay sculptures, the Mogao Caves are the world's largest and richest Buddhist art site. The magnificent Mogao Caves not only encompass the traditional culture and art of ancient China and the Western Regions, but also have gained the reputation of "World Art Gallery", "Museum on the Wall", and "World Art Treasure" due to the magnificence of the murals and colorful sculptures as well as the profoundness of their contents.

In December 1987, the Mogao Caves in Dunhuang, Gansu Province, China, were listed on the "World Heritage List".

Mogao Caves are large-scale grottoes that integrate the arts of painting, sculpture and architecture, with murals as the main focus and sculptures as the supplement.

Murals in the Mogao Caves are depicted on the four walls, on the roof and in the niches of the caves. Its contents are vast and profound, mainly including seven types of subjects such as Buddha statues, Buddhist stories, Buddhist historical sites and relics, the Buddhist sutras, fairy tales and legendary figures, donors' portraits and decorative motifs.

In addition, there are many other paintings showing various aspects of social life such as hunting, farming, weaving, transportation, war, construction, dance, weddings and funerals. Some of these paintings are majestic and broad, while others are magnificent and colorful, reflecting the artistic styles and features of different periods.

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