Silk road Dunhaung the Crescent Moon Lake

Dunhuang A Brief Survey
Dunhunag is situated at the westernmost end of the
Hexi Corridor. It was the most important station on the Silk Road and was once called Sha. It has an area of 31,200 square kilometers and a population of around 110,000,most of whom are Han; the ethnic minorities include Hui, Tibetan, Mongolian, Kazak, Tu, Tong, Miao, Man, Yugur, and Korean. In Dunhuang,farming land occupies over 230,000
mu; the main crops are wheat, corn, cotton, melons, fruit, and vegetables.
Scenic Spots:
Dunhuang is the scenic highlight of the Silk Road in
China and certainly the major attraction for Gansu tourism. The world--famous Mogao Grottoes are located 25 kilometers southeast of Dunhuang. The caves are hewn in the steep cliffs at the eastern foot of Mingsha Mountains. They are both the greatest treasurehouse of Chinese classical art and
the center of Buddhist art.
Buddhism is one of the major world religions;it advocates the theory that living beings are in a state of misery and stresses self--cultivation during the present in search of liberation from the cycle of reincarnation. These thoughts were spread to China by way of Buddhist scriptures and art
and were merged with traditional Chinese culture and art.As a result ,a unique Buddhist literature and art was formed and Mogao Grottoes are the witness to such dissemination and mergence.
Mogao Grottoes
Mogao Grottoes were begun in 366 AD. It is said that
when a monk named Le Zun passed this place ,he saw a sudden shining of golden light in which a thousand buddhas seemed to have'revealed themselves; he believed that this was a sacred place for Buddhists. He collected money from all around and cut the first grotto. This news spread fast and passing merchants and travellers all donated money for the
construction of grottoes in hope of a safe journey. This project lasted more than 1,000 years, up until the Yuan Dynasty. The total number of grottoes is 491 in which there are over 2,000 sculptures and 45,000 square meters of murals.
If Dunhuang was made famous by Mogao Grottoes ,then it is the murals ,especially the story telling murals ,that made Mogao Grottoes known far and wide. The story murals center mostly on Buddhist thought. They are roughly divisible into the following categories:scriptures, the biography
and stories (jatakas) of the Buddha,and other Buddhist historical records. They advocate the spirit of self--sacrifice and altruism.
For example,the stories of King Nine--Colored Deer (Cave 257),Prince Sudana Granting an Elephant (Caves 419,423,428) ,Prince Mahasattva Feeding Tigers with His Own Flesh (Caves 55,85,428),King Sudhira Giving His Eyes Away (Cave 275), and King Tchandraprabha Giving His Head Away (Cave 275).


They also advocate discipline and filial piety, e. g. :a Sramanera Commits Suicide for Discipline (Caves 257 and 285);Sujati Slices Off His Own Flesh to Feed His Parents (Caves 85 and 296) ,Samaka Waits upon His Parents in Deep Mountains (Cave 293).
The theory of retribution is depicted in Bhiksuni Patacara (Cave 296) and Inborn Hatred (Cave 171). The Power of the Buddhist Dharma is depicted in Sumati Invites the Buddha (Cave 257), Raudraksa's Battle with Sariputra (Cave 196). The human origins of Buddhas are depicted in Biography of the Buddha (Cave 290) and Five Hundred Bandits Become Buddhas (Caves 285 and 296). These murals encouraged Buddhists to practice perseverance as in the Illusion City in Lotus Sutra (Cave 217)and imitate the ways of self--cultivation as depicted in the Sixteen Meditations in Inborn Hatred.
The style of mural art reveals the exchange and blending of Chinese and Western cultures despite differences in dress depicted in the early murals. The human figures and their costume in the murals of the Northern Liang are mostly Indian and Persian: prominent noses and eyes , naked above the waist,and dressed in cloaks ~Western Wei murals
depict the handsome features of the Southern Dynasties and reflect the introduction of the Central Plains' style and the sinicization of mural art . In the Northern Zhou, with the fusion and harmonization of the Han and other ethnic groups
in Dunhuang and the expansion of the Chinese and western cultural communications, the two art styles Central Plains and Western Regions----moved from co--existence to blending. As the depictions of the human figure indicate , the handsome features of the Central Plains were mixed with the Western Regions' style of a strong constitution and round facial features and produced a new image with the strong points of both. Their dress has also changed from the original bodhisattva and Western Regions' style to ordinary clothes. Art of the Sui period inherited this blend,freed itself from outside influences and further developed a distinct Chinese national art form. From that time to the high-Tang, the mural art in Mogao Grottoes advanced toward perfection.
The development of the colored sculptures shows the
same trends. These sculptures are of four sorts.tall , paste, relief,and free standing. They are mainly images of the Buddha and his disciples,gods and goddesses, flying devas,lay men,animals,picture patterns and niche lintel adornments.The early scupltures bear the influence of India and the
Western Regions in their facial expression , stature, and dress ;while in the Western Wei,they became handsome figures of the Southern Dynasties. The scupltors of the Sui Dynasty sought to break the restrictions of carving only Buddha images ,shatter the bondage of the artistic standards from outside ,and create images of local color and characteristics. In the Tang Dynasty,the sculptures were natural and well-proportioned with plump facial features of fine complexion. On this basis,there were gradual improvements.West Thousand - Buddha Cave The West Thousand - Buddha Cave is located in a cliff on the Dang River 35 kilometers south of Dunhuang. It was built about the same time as the Mogao Grottoes . It i