Mogao Caves

Mogao Caves 400
Mogao Caves and a carved-in statue of Buddha
Photo by: kzaral, Creative Commons

Art lovers will benefit from viewing the Ancient Buddhist statues and paintings housed in the Mogao Caves. Along with the Longmen and Yungang Caves, the Mogao Caves complete the sculptural destinations a visitor must go to when in China. The Mogao grottoes, also known as the Dunhuang Caves and Caves of the Thousand Buddhas, holds a collection of various art preserved over a period of many years.

As local legend has it, the origins run back to 366 AD. When a Buddhist monk, Le Zun, was inspired to construct what he saw from a vision, that of a thousand Buddhas. The monks and faithful Buddhists find shelter in the caves for meditation.

The Mogao Caves are found at the eastern part of Dunhuang’s Mount Mingsha and enjoy a strategic location along the Silk route. The 492 cave sanctuaries and cells in Mogao holds paintings and statues from different art influences during the silk trade, which included religion, culture, and Chinese knowledge.

Usually, the paintings and architecture are visual aides especially to illiterate Chinese Buddhists. Buddhist monks would take writings from traders who pass along the Silk routes and the pilgrims would paint murals on the cave’s walls.

The Silk Route contributed to the vast collection of artifacts. Traders would make a stop and would trade for art and paintings.

The Mogao caves was recognized in the several arenas, like the Japanese film “The Silk Road”, a Chinese animation: “A deer of Nine Colors”, and Olympic games 2008 where one of the mascots Huanhuan was inspired by the fire art in one of the caves.

The grottoes await you in China.

3 responses to “Mogao Caves”

  1. Ted says:

    The photo you have posted here is not of the Mogao caves. It is of the Yunggang caves, in Shanxi province, a thousand kilometers distant.

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