Mogao Caves,Mogao Caves Dunhuang China
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Mogao Caves

With the treasured Buddhist murals and statues in caves spanning the Northern Wei (386-543), Sui (581-618) and Tang (618-907) dynasties, Mogao Caves is a shrine of Buddhist art treasures. Mogao Caves, which are stacked five stories, nearly 50 meters high, are located on the eastern slope of Mingsha Shan (Mount Echoing Sand), which is 25 km from the downtown Dunhuang.

At the time of Wei Dynasty (386-543) when the Buddhism crowded into China with Silk Road, the Buddhist sculptors found it was hard to carve the Buddhist sculptures on the rock surface, but goes well with the clay-made statues, so they hollowed the mountain, placed clay-made statues in front of the cave walls with carved relief murals as backdrops and painted the sidewalls and ceilings with art decors. The largest statue is 34.5 meters high and the smallest is merely 2 centimeters high.

As the reason why the Buddhist sculptors chose Ming Shang (Mount Echoing Sand) as the major site to keep the Buddhist statues, a legend may explain this question, it is said that in Tang Dynasty, a monk had witnessed a vision of thousand Buddhas under showers of golden rays near the Ming Shan, so he was inspired to started this caves’ construction work which has spanned ten dynasties.

Since the Buddhist culture of Mogao Caves, which has been imported from India in a really early time, people could easily find the traces of Indian Buddhist art in the earlier works, and with 10 different dynasties continuing work, 750 caves are the truly nice place to have an idea of the daily routines and special events of all walks of life in the Northern Wei (386-543), Sui (581-618) and Tang (618-907) dynasties. Besides, since the dynasties experienced the heyday and decline days, rich and poor periods, the Buddhist sculptures have big differences in color, pattern and contents as well. 

As the treasures it has, there are over 50,000 manuscripts written in many languages. People do believe the treasures it has could fill 25 kilometers of gallery space. Here is really a depository of historical and cultural exchanges over more than a thousand years between China and other nations.

Mogao Caves Notes

It’s forbidden to take pictures for protecting the murals
An electronic torch will light the inner parts of the caves.

Admission Fee:
May 1 to Oct. 31:
CNY 160, CNY 180(including English guide)

Nov.1 to Apr. 30:
CNY 80, CNY 100 (including English Guide)

Opening Hours:
May 1 to Oct. 31: 08:30 - 18:00
Nov.1 to Apr. 30: 09:00 - 17:30

Recommended Time for a Visit:   
3-5 hours


Mogao Caves Remark

Four Most Important Buddhist Grottoes in China:

Maiji Grottoes
Features:194 Buddhist caves and niches within over 7, 200 clay statues on the sheer cliff.
Location:locate in Maiji Mountain, some 45 kilometers southeast of Tianshui City, Gansu Province.

Mogao Grottoes
Features: A system of 492 temples
Location:near Dunhuang, in Gansu province

Yungang Grottoes
Features:A blend of ancient Buddhist temple grottoes and statues, revealing excellent stone carvings of 5th to 6th centuries
Location:Located at the southern foot of Wuzhou Mountain some 16 km west of Datong City, Shanxi Province

Longmen Grottoes
Features:Endless fascinating grottoes, including the Wan Fo Dong caves which contain about 15000 statues of Buddha
Location:located 12 km south of present day Luoyang in Henan Province