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Mogao Caves

Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Mogao Caves, or Mogao Grottoes (also known as the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas and Dunhuang Caves) form a system of 492 temples 25km (15.5 miles) Southeast from the center of Dunhuang, an oasis strategically located at a religious and culture crossroads on the Silk Road, in Gansu province, China on the edges of the Taklamakan Desert.
The caves contain some of the finest examples of Buddhist art spanning a period of 1,000 years.
Construction of the Buddhist cave shrines began in 366 CE as places to store scriptures and art.
The Mogao Caves are the most well known of the Chinese Buddhist grottoes and, along with Longmen Grottoes and Yungang Grottoes, are one of the three famous ancient sculptural sites of China.

According to local legend, in 366 CE a Buddhist monk had a vision of a thousand Buddhas and inspired 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 to 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 (42,000 mē).
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.
The following has been suggested:
" The most probable reason for such a huge accumulation of waste is that, when the printing of books became widespread in the tenth century, the handwritten manuscripts of the Tripitaka at the monastic libraries must have been replaced by books of a new type - the printed Tripitaka.
Consequently, the discarded manuscripts found their way to the sacred waste-pile, where torn scrolls from old times as well as a bulk of manuscripts in Tibetan had been stored.
All we can say for certain is that he came from the Wu family, because the compound of the three-storied cave temples, Nos. 16-18 and 365-6, is known to have been built and kept by the Wu family, of which the mid-ninth century Bishop of Tun-Huan, Hung-pien, was a member. "
- Fujieda Akira, "The Tun-Huan Manuscripts"

The Mogao manuscript trove forms the backdrop of the plotline of the Japanese movie The Silk Road (1988, English subtitles), adapted from a 1959 novel by Yasushi Inoue.
One of the stories from the caves were adapted into a Chinese animation in 1981 titled a A Deer of Nine Colors.
Barbara Wright mentions the Mogao Caves in the Doctor Who serial Marco Polo.

For a more information about
Mogao Caves see Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This page was retrieved and condensed from (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mogao_Caves) see Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, November 2007.
All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License (see Copyrights for details).
About Wikipedia

This information was correct in November 2007. E. & O.E.

Hui Chin and I joined a conducted bus tour from Urumchi to visit Turpan.

It was a very interesting trip and full of drama, as there was many interesting places to visit and there was also a number of arguments on the bus about the tickets and sights to be visited, the sitting arrangements on the bus and also about the food and the quality and hygene standard of the restaurants we have visited.

To cap it all of, my camera's battery ran flat, half way through, our spare battery and another camera sitting safely back at the hotel in Urumchi (laughing at our misfortune), but a few weeks later I had even worst news, when, after returning home, I found out that two of my new 2Gigabyte SD memory cards, although seemed to work perfectly at the time, have invisible pictures on them.
The pictures seem to exist alright, with all around the 200 plus kilobyte properties and showing as jpeg pictures, but can't be viewed.
I have lost some very interesting, unusual and irreplacable pictures of Turpan, Urumchi, Bishkek in Kyrgizstan and pictures of the countrysides of Kyrgizstan and Kazakstan.


Now altough we were there and had our visual and phisical experiences, I have to take advantage of using Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia's resources with our greatful thanks.


I would like to mention a few things, that was mentioned to us during our visit to Turpan, but I do not find any mention on the pages and articles I read before putting this page together.
Turpan is sited in a basin (Turfan Depression), at the second deepest hole after the Dead Sea - under sea level. (328ft. below sea level).
Turpan is one of the hottest place on earth, due to its desert location and relative altitude.
Turpan also one of the driest place on earth again due to it's location and altitude. (This last two points make it ideal place to grow grapes and other fruit with the Karez (water) System's help.
Some of Turpan's listed attractions may be 40+ kilometres away, normally they still will be listed as Turpan's attraction.
On the way to Turpan from Urumchi our bus stopped at a fortress, as I lost the many photos I have taken of this place - as I have explained above, now I can't find any reference or mention of the place - can somebody help me, please?

Mogao Caves or Mogao Grottoes

Mogao Caves - A complete view of the painting

Mogao Caves - Zhang Qian

Xuanzang ceremonies for the Buddha

Mogao Caves - Silk Road

Mogao Caves - Part of the wall painting


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