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Mogao Caves, Mogao Grottoes

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Mogao Caves are located about 25km southeast of Dunhuang, in Gansu province. The Caves are a system of 492 Buddhist cave temples.Mogao Grottoes They are also known as the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas, the Mogao Grottoes or the Caves of Dunhuang.

This honeycomb of caves was constructed more than a thousand years. From the 4th until the 14th century, Buddhist monks at Dunhuang collected scriptures everywhere. Also many pilgrims painted murals inside the caves when passed through here. Despite erosion and man-made destruction, 492 caves are well preserved now. In the caves, the frescoes covering an area of 45,000 square meters and more than 2,000 colored sculptured figures. Clay statues were placed in front of the cave walls, the largest statue is 34.5 meters (113 feet) high and the smallest a mere 2 centimeters (0.79inches) high.

Apart from artifacts, there are 50,000 manuscripts written in many languages. India is the origin area of Buddhist art, so Indian Buddhist art are showed in the earlier works. While the recent works depict the life and activities in the local setting. Artists in each dynasty painted with their distinctive palette. When you are exploring the caves you will feel you are reliving the daily routines and special events.

Mogao Caves were discovered in the period of great international archaeological research in this area and Sir Aurel Stein was the first to gain access in 1907. Thereafter archaeologists from France, Russia and China were drawn to Dunhuang. So the great majority of manuscripts and documents from these caves are to be found in Beijing, Paris, London and St. Petersburg.

Mogao Caves are the greatest and most consummate repository of historical and cultural collection over a thousand years between China and other nations. People believe it is possible to fill 25 kilometers (15.5miles) of gallery space with the works of art from Mogao Caves. The Mogao Caves were listed on the World Heritage List in 1987 by United National Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

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