UNESCO Spotlight: China’s Hidden Art – Mogao Buddhist Caves
One wonders if the Mogao Buddhist Caves on China’s Silk Road might have received its UNESCO World Heritage Site listing on numbers alone. Indeed, these caves contain the largest number of Buddhist art pieces in China.
It’s believed one monk had a vision of a thousand Buddhas, and began carving this vision into his hermit’s cave near Dunhuang. As more monks arrived, they dug out countless more caves along the ridge of sandstone in the Mingsha Mountains, leaving their own carvings, frescoes, and painted statues. Over the course of 1,000 years, the caves have reflected a variety of Buddhist art styles.
- Entrance to the Mogao Caves stands five stories tall.
- Cave sizes are as small as one foot to 131 feet tall and 98 feet wide.
- General public can’t take photos or videos inside the caves, helping preserve the frescoes’ colors. Exterior shots are OK.
- Best times to visit are morning to early afternoon when outdoor light is best for photos.
(Top photo credit: Martin Klimenta – Can’t-miss entrance to Mogao Buddhist Caves; it’s five stories tall.)
PUBLISHED: December 1, 2014