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Mogao Grottoes
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Situated at a strategic point along the Silk Route (sī chóu zhī lù 丝绸之路), 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 The Mogao Grottoes contain priceless paintings, sculptures, some 50,000 Buddhist scriptures, historical documents, textiles, and other relics that first stunned the world in the early 1900s.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 乐僔) , 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.




  莫高窟位于敦煌市东南25公里处,开凿在鸣沙山东麓断崖上。南北长约1600多米, 上下排列五层、高低错落有致、鳞次栉比,形如蜂房鸽舍,壮观异常。它是我国现存规模最大,内容最丰富的古典文化艺术宝库,也是举世闻名的佛教艺术中心。 1987年12月被联合国教科文组织列为世界文化遗产。
  莫高窟虽然在漫长的岁月中受到大自然的侵袭和人为的破坏,至今保留有从十六国、北魏、西魏、北周、隋、唐、五代、宋、西夏、元等十个朝代的洞492 个,壁画四万五千多平方米,彩塑像两千身,是世界现存佛教艺术最伟大的宝库。若把壁画排列,能伸展30多公里,是世界上最长、规模最大、内容最丰富的一个画廊。近几十年来,国内外学着对敦煌艺术极感兴趣,不断进行研究,形成了一个专门学科"敦煌学"。

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