Asia: Rocky villages / Mogao Caves

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PHOTO: s_hsieh0528 40 2'14.70" 9448'14.92"

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Arguably greater Dunhuang’s most famous attraction, the UNESCO World Heritage listed Mogao Caves in Gansu province form the most fascinating repository of Buddhist art in China. For over 700 years, between the 4th and 11th centuries AD, Buddhist monks excavated and painted these caves, until invasion and the encroachment of Islam brought work to a halt. Protected by their relative isolation, the colourful cave paintings were the legacy not only of resident monks, but also travelling pilgrim monks, merchants and nobles. A small number of Christian artifacts have also been found in the caves, testimony to the wide variety of people who made their way along the Silk Road. The caves and painting were all but forgotten until early in the 20th century, when the Anglo-Hungarian explorer Sir Aurel Stein stumbled upon the caves and the Daoist priest who guarded them, Wang Yuanlu. Among the thousands of items uncovered by Stein is the Diamond Sutra, the world’s earliest printed book (in scroll form), and many patterns usd by monks to reproduce paintings at will. Known also as the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas, the Mogao Caves, or Mogao Grottoes form a system of 492 temples, of which around 30 are open to the public as an important attraction of antiquity. The use of the word "cave" is actually a bit of a misnomer, since these are not natural, but instead examples of rock-cut architecture.


 


 

19.10.2018 .

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30.08.2018 .

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