Fun Facts about Chinese Culture and History

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Mogao Grottoes -- Biggest Buddhism Art Gallery

In the year 366, a Buddhist found a mountain, in the middle of capacious desert, suddenly ejected golden lights that were extremely bright and spectacular; he was impressed and believed that this was the holy place where he wanted to practice Buddhism.

 

Then he built the first cave of Mogao Grottoes on this mountain. 

 

Gradually, more caves and grottoes were constructed during the next hundreds of years.

 

It is the biggest and the most abundant Buddhism art gallery, with 45,000 square meters frescos and 2415 painted sculptures, presenting in the hundreds of caves that are built on cliffs. 

 

In the Mogao Grottoes, there are 735 caves in total; the biggest is over 200 square meters large, while the smallest one is less than 1 square meter.

 

Most caves include sculptures and frescoes, while others are for Buddhists to live and practice. 

 

Painted Buddha sculptures inside those caves vary from 35.6 meters to 10 centimeters high.

 

Pagodas and other buildings show the wooden architectural styles of different dynasties in the history of China.

 

The frescos are excellent representatives of Chinese culture and custom from thousands of years ago, which include ancient paintings in regard to military, sport, music, art, dance, architecture and transportation, etc.

 

In the early 11th century, people stopped expanding the Mogao Grottoes; instead, many treasures were secretly hidden and sealed into one cave, because of chaos and wars in that period.

 

Until in the year 1900, this mysterious cave was discovered, and many of those extremely precious relics were illegally taken away by some foreigners. Most of them are still in these foreign countries now, and only few of them came back to China. 

 

Besides relics hidden in that cave, some precious frescos from other caves were taken away as well. 

 

Nowadays, though many efforts have been put into the protection and recovery of the Mogao Grottoes, it is still incomplete, with many valuable pieces are missing.