just outside Dunhuang, China,
is the site of the Mogao Grottoes (caves
/ caverns). Numbering 492 grottoes so far, Mogao is
considered by many as the "spirtual stopover" for travellers
along the Silk Road.
In addition to housing more than 2000 sculptures of Buddhas,
Bodhisattvas, guardians and devotees, a staggering 45,000
square meters of the surfaces in these grottoes are covered
with Buddhist paintings. Of these, there are more than 4500
images of flying asparas (found in 270 of the grottoes),
more than 3400 pictures of musicians and dancers, 500 bands
and at least 6000 musical instruments.
At the heart of the Mogao Grottoes is the 35m tall statue of a female Buddha - the Female Emperor Wu Zetian 武 则天 wǔ zé tiān.
The caves in Mogao functioned as dormitories, mediation chambers and places for the dead. Examples of the numbered grottoes are listed here:
of the Eastern thousand Buddhas grottoes;
scantily clad Bodhisattvas in tight half shirts and mini skirts dancing under a Banyan tree
|3||painting of Sahasrabhuja Image|
|two Song Dynasty paintings show Bodhisattvas on a journey|
|17||the Library Cave|
|112||39 dancers and musicians;
flying aspara playing the pipa behind her back
nicknamed "The Music Grotto"
|257||Northern Wei Dynastyshowing the Buddhist story "Nine Colour Deer Script"|
|Couple of naked flying apsaras|
layer conical tower converted from a central tower pillar
murals of the Sui Dynasty
|244, 280, 282, 287, 293, 295, 297, 302, 303, 305, 312, 419, 427,||examples of the 80-odd grottoes carved during the Sui Dynasty|