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              Mogao Grottoes
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              mogaoku?

              Situated at a strategic point along the Silk Route (sī chóu zhī lù 絲綢之路), at the crossroads of trade as well as religious, cultural and intellectual influences, the 492 cells and cave sanctuaries in Mogao Grottoes (mò gāo kū 莫高窟) are famous for their statues and wall paintings, spanning 1,000 years of Buddhist art. The Mogao Grottoes contain priceless paintings, sculptures, some 50,000 Buddhist scriptures, historical documents, textiles, and other relics that first stunned the world in the early 1900s.

              Dunhuang (dūn huáng 敦煌) joss, all painted sculptures made of mud, are divided into single and group ones, and have vivid shapes and different presences with the tallest to 33m and shortest to 0.1m only.
              mogaokuIn Dunhuang’s 492 grottoes, almost every one of them has flying gods. Flying gods in early caves are stocky with a big mouth and big ears, which is evidently influenced by the flying gods in the Indic and Western Region. However, the artistic image since the Tang Dynasty (táng dài 唐代) (618—907) has completely had the Chinese style, which is without wings and feathers but with flyaway dress and colored ribbons.
              According to local legend, in 366 AD a Buddhist monk, Le Zun (lè zūn 樂僔) , had a vision of a thousand Buddhas and inspired the 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.
              mogaokuThe murals cover 450,000 square feet. 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.
              Buddhist cave art originated in the second century B.C.E. in Maharashtra, India - an area of commercial importance for trade flows between north and south India. Between the inception at the older site at Ajanta and the completion of further ones at a nearby site at Ellora in the eighth century, some 63 caves were excavated and painted.
              With 492 painted grottoes, the Mogao?Grottoes have more than eight times as many grottoes as those at India's primary two sites. That said, the Mogao?Grottoes should not be understood as an isolated endeavor within China. They are merely the best example of an astonishingly widespread Buddhist cave movement in this nation.

              敦煌莫高窟

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              ????? 莫高窟屬全國重點文物保護單位,俗稱千佛洞,被譽為20世紀最有價值的文化發現,坐落在河西走廊西端的敦煌,以精美的壁畫和塑像聞名于世。它始建于十六國的前秦時期,歷經十六國、北朝、隋、唐、五代、西夏、元等歷代的興建,形成巨大的規模,現有洞窟735個,壁畫4.5萬平方米、泥質彩塑2415尊,是世界上現存規模最大、內容最豐富的佛教藝術圣地。近代以來又發現了藏經洞,內有5萬多件古代文物,由此衍生專門研究藏經洞典籍和敦煌藝術的學科——敦煌學。但在近代,莫高窟受到騙取、盜竊,文物大量流失,其寶藏遭到嚴重破壞。1961年,莫高窟被公布為第一批全國重點文物保護單位之一。1987年,莫高窟被列為世界文化遺產。是中國四大石窟之一。
              敦煌莫高窟是甘肅省敦煌市境內的莫高窟、西千佛洞的總稱,是我國著名的四大石窟之一,也是世界上現存規模最宏大,保存最完好的佛教藝術寶庫。

                莫高窟位于敦煌市東南25公里處,開鑿在鳴沙山東麓斷崖上。南北長約1600多米, 上下排列五層、高低錯落有致、鱗次櫛比,形如蜂房鴿舍,壯觀異常。它是我國現存規模最大,內容最豐富的古典文化藝術寶庫,也是舉世聞名的佛教藝術中心。 1987年12月被聯合國教科文組織列為世界文化遺產。
                前秦符堅建元二年(公元366年)有沙門樂尊者行至此處,見鳴沙山上金光萬道,狀有千佛,于是萌發開鑿之心,后歷建不斷,遂成佛門圣地,號為敦煌莫高窟,俗稱千佛洞。
                莫高窟雖然在漫長的歲月中受到大自然的侵襲和人為的破壞,至今保留有從十六國、北魏、西魏、北周、隋、唐、五代、宋、西夏、元等十個朝代的洞492 個,壁畫四萬五千多平方米,彩塑像兩千身,是世界現存佛教藝術最偉大的寶庫。若把壁畫排列,能伸展30多公里,是世界上最長、規模最大、內容最豐富的一個畫廊。近幾十年來,國內外學著對敦煌藝術極感興趣,不斷進行研究,形成了一個專門學科"敦煌學"。
               

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