The Kizil Caves (also romanized Qizil Caves, spelling variant Qyzyl) are a set of Buddhist rock-cut caves located near Kizil Township (克孜尔乡, Kèzī'ěr Xiāng) in Baicheng County, Xinjiang, China. The site is located on the northern bank of the Muzat River 65 kilometres (75 km by road) west of Kucha. This area was a commercial hub of the Silk Road. The caves are said to be the earliest major Buddhist cave complex in China, with development occurring between the 3rd and 8th centuries.The Kizil Caves complex is the largest of the ancient Buddhist cave sites that are associated with the ancient
Tochariankingdom of Kucha, as well as the largest in Xinjiang. Other cave sites in the Kucha region include the Kumtura Caves and Simsim Caves.
There are 236 cave temples in Kizil, carved into the cliff stretching from east to west for a length of 2 km. Of these, 135 are still relatively intact. The earliest caves are dated, based in part on radioactive carbon dating, to around the year 300. Most researchers believe that the caves were probably abandoned sometime around the beginning of the 8th century, after Tang influence reached the area.Documents written in Tocharian languages were found in Kizil, and a few of the caves contain Tocharian inscriptions which give the names of a few rulers.
Many of the caves have a central pillar design whereby pilgrims may circumambulate around a central column which is a representation of the stupa. A large vaulted chamber is located in front of the column and a smaller rear chamber behind with two tunnel-like corridors on the sides linking these spaces. In the front chamber, a three-dimensional image of Buddha would have been housed in a large niche serving as the focus of the interior, however, none of these sculptures have survived at Kizil.The rear chamber may feature the parinirvana scene in the form of a mural or large sculpture, and in some cases, a combination of both.
There are three other types of caves: square caves, caves with large image, and monastic cells (viharas). Around two-thirds of the caves are viharas which are monks' living quarters and store-houses, and these caves do not contain mural paintings.In 1906, the German expedition team of Albert von Le Coq and Albert Grünwedel explored the Kizil Caves. While Grünwedel was primarily interested in copying the murals, von le Coq chose to remove many of the murals. Most of the fragments removed are now in Museum of Asian Art (formerly Museum für Indische Kunst) in Dahlem, Berlin.
Other explorers removed some fragments of murals and may now be found in museums in Russia, Japan, Korea and United States. Although the site has been both damaged and looted, around 5000 square metres of wall paintings remained,These murals mostly depict Jataka stories, avadanas, and legends of the Buddha, and are an artistic representation in the tradition of the Hinayana school of the Sarvastivadas.
According to a text found in Kucha, the paintings in some of the caves were commissioned by a Tokharian (Thogar) king called "Mendre" with the advice of Anandavarman, a high-ranking monk. The king ordered an Indian artist, Naravahanadatta, and a Syrian artist, Priyaratna, with their disciples to paint the caves.The neighbouring Khotanese kings Vijayavardhana and Murlimin also assisted with the painting of another cave by sending artists to the site.
A notable feature of the murals in Kizil is the extensive use of blue pigments, including the precious ultramarine pigment derived from lapis lazuli from Afghanistan. In the classification of the art of the region by Ernst Waldschmidt, there are three distinct periods: the murals from the first phase are characterized by the use of reddish pigments, while those from the second phase used bluish pigments in abundance.
The earlier paintings reflect more Greco-Indianor Gandharan influences, while the second ones show Iranian (Sassanian) influences. Later caves seem to have fewer legends and/or jatakas, being replaced by the repetitive designs of numerous small Buddhas (the so-called thousand Buddha motif), or sitting Buddhas with nimbuses.The paintings of the first two phases showed a lack of Chinese elements.The last phase is the Turkic-Chinese period which is centered around Turfan but in Kizil only two caves showed Tang Chinese influence.Another characteristic of the Kizil murals is the division into diamond-shaped blocks in the vault ceilings of the main room of many caves. Buddhist scenes are depicted inside these diamond-shapes in many layers on top of one another to show the narrative sequences of the scenes.
Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves
The Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves (Chinese: 柏孜克里千佛洞; pinyin: Bózīkèlǐ Qiānfódòng) is a complex of Buddhist cave grottos dating from the 5th to 14th century between the cities of Turpan and Shanshan (Loulan) at the north-east of the Taklamakan Desert near the ancient ruins of Gaochang in the Mutou Valley, a gorge in the Flaming Mountains, China. They are high on the cliffs of the west Mutou Valley under the Flaming Mountains, and most of the surviving caves date from the West Uyghur kingdom around the 10th to 13th centuries.
here are 77 rock-cut caves at the site. Most have rectangular spaces with roundedarch ceilings often divided into four sections, each with a mural of the Buddha. The effect is of entire ceiling covers with hundreds of Buddha murals. Some murals show a large Buddha surrounded by other figures, including Turks, Indians and Europeans. The quality of the murals vary with some being artistically naive while others are masterpieces of religious art.The murals that best represent the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves are the large-sized murals, which were given the name the "Praņidhi Scene", paintings depicting Sakyamuni’s "promise" or "praņidhi" from his past life.
Professor James A. Millward described the original Uyghurs as physically Mongoloid, giving as an example the images in Bezeklik at temple 9 of the Uyghur patrons, until they began to mix with the Tarim Basin's original Indo-European Tocharian inhabitants.Buddhist Uyghurs created the Bezeklik murals. However, Peter B. Golden writes that the Uyghurs not only adopted the writing system and religious faiths of the Indo-European Sogdians, such as Manichaeism, Buddhism, and Christianity, but also looked to the Sogdians as "mentors" while gradually replacing them in their roles as Silk Road traders and purveyors of culture.
Indeed, Sogdians wearing silk robes are seen in the praṇidhi scenes of Bezeklik murals, particularly Scene 6 from Temple 9 showingSogdian donors to the Buddha.The paintings of Bezeklik, while having a small amount of Indian influence, is primarily influenced by Chinese and Iranian styles, particularly Sasanian Persian landscape painting.Albert von Le Coq was the first to study the murals and published his findings in 1913. He noted how in Scene 14 from Temple 9 one of the Caucasian-looking figures with green eyes, wearing a green fur-trimmed coat and presenting a bowl with what he assumed were bags of gold dust, wore a hat that he found reminiscent of the headgear of Sasanian Persian princes.
The Buddhist Uyghurs of the Kingdom of Qocho and Turfan were converted to Islam by conquest during a ghazat (holy war) at the hands of the Muslim Chagatai Khanate ruler Khizr Khoja (r. 1389-1399).After being converted to Islam, the descendants of the previously Buddhist Uyghurs in Turfan failed to retain memory of their ancestral legacy and falsely believed that the "infidel Kalmuks" (Dzungars) were the ones who built Buddhist monuments in their area.
Anti portrait Muslims had Buddhist portraits obliterated during the wars over hundreds of years in which Buddhism was replaced by Islam. Cherrypicking of history of Xinjiang with the intention of projecting an image of irreligiousity or piousness of Islam in Uyghur culture has been done by people with agendas. Michael Dillon wrote that the 1000s-1100s Islam-Buddhist war are still recalled in the forms of the Khotan Imam Asim Sufi shrine celebration and other Sufi holy site celebrations. Bezeklik's Thousand Buddha Caves are an example of the religiously motivated vandalism against portraits of religious and human figures.The murals at Bezeklik have suffered considerable damage. Many of the murals were damaged by local Muslim population whose religion proscribed figurative images of sentient beings, the eyes and mouths in particular were often gouged out. Pieces of murals were also broken off for use as fertilizer by the locals.During the late nineteen and early twentieth century, European and Japanese explorers found intact murals buried in sand, and many were removed and dispersed around the world.
Some of the best preserved murals were removed by German explorer Albert von Le Coq and sent to Germany. Large pieces such as those showing Praņidhi scene were permanently fixed to walls in Museum of Ethnology in Berlin. During the Second World War they could not be removed for safekeeping, and were thus destroyed when the museum was caught in the bombing of Berlin by the Allies.Other pieces may now be found in various museums around the world, such as the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Tokyo National Museum in Japan, the British Museum in London, and the national museums of Korea and India.A digital recreation of the Bezeklik murals removed by explorers was shown in Japan.
"Dunhuang Caves" redirects here. For other uses, see Dunhuang Caves (disambiguation).he Mogao Caves (Chinese: 莫高窟; pinyin: Mògāo kū; Wade–Giles: Mo4-kao1 k'u1), also known as the Thousand Buddha Grottoes (Chinese: 千佛洞; pinyin: qiān fó dòng), form a system of 492 temples 25 km (16 mi) southeast of the center of Dunhuang, an oasis strategically located at a religious and cultural crossroads on the Silk Road, in Gansuprovince, China. The caves may also be known as the Dunhuang Caves, however, this term is also used as a collective term to include other Buddhist cave sites in the Dunhuang area, such as the Western Thousand Buddha Caves, and theYulin Caves farther away.
The caves contain some of the finest examples of Buddhist art spanning a period of 1,000 years.The first caves were dug out in 366 AD as places of Buddhist meditation and worship.The Mogao Caves are the best known of the Chinese Buddhist grottoes and, along with Longmen Grottoes and Yungang Grottoes, are one of the three famous ancient Buddhist sculptural sites of China.An important cache of documents was discovered in 1900 in the so-called "Library Cave," which had been walled-up in the 11th century. The content of the library was dispersed around the world, and the largest collections are now found in Beijing, London, Paris and Berlin, and the International Dunhuang Project exists to coordinate and collect scholarly work on the Dunhuang manuscripts and other material.
The caves themselves are now a popular tourist destination, with a number open for visiting.Dunhuang was established as a frontier garrison outpost by the Han Dynasty Emperor Wudito protect against the Xiongnu in 111 BC. It also became an important gateway to the West, a centre of commerce along the Silk Road, as well as a meeting place of various people and religions such as Buddhism.The art of Dunhuang covers more than ten major genres, such as architecture, stucco sculpture, wall paintings, silk paintings, calligraphy, woodblock printing, embroidery, literature, music and dance, and popular entertainment.
The murals in the caves date from a period of over a thousand years, from the 5th to the 14th century, and many earlier ones were repainted at later points within the period. The murals are extensive, covering an area of 490,000 square feet (46,000 square metres). The most fully painted caves have paintings all over the walls and ceilings, with geometrical or plant decoration filling the spaces not taken by figurative images, which are above all of the Buddha. Sculpture is also brightly painted. The murals are valued for the scale and richness of content as well as their artistry. Buddhist subjects are most common, however some have traditional mythical subjects and portraits of patrons. These murals document the changing styles of Buddhist art in China for nearly a thousand years. The artistry of the murals reached its apogee during the Tang period, and the quality of the work dropped after the tenth century.
Early murals showed a strong Indian and Central Asian influence in the painting techniques used, the composition and style of the paintings as well as costumes worn by the figures, but a distinct Dunhuang style began to emerge during Northern Wei Dynasty.Motifs of Chinese, Central Asian and Indian origin may be found in a single cave, and Chinese elements increased during the Western Wei period.
A common motif in many caves is the areas entirely covered by rows of small seated Buddha figures, after which this and other "Thousand Buddhas Caves" are named. These small Buddhas were drawn using stencils so that identical figures may be replicated. Flying apsaras, or celestial beings may be depicted in the ceiling or above the Buddhas, and figures of donors may be shown along the bottom of the walls. The paintings often depict jataka tales which are stories of the life of Buddha, or avadana which are parables of the doctrine of karma.
Bodhisattvas started appearing during the Northern Zhou period,with Avalokitesvara(Guanyin),
which was originally male but acquired female characteristics later, the most popular. Most caves show Mahayana andSravakayana (Theravada or Hinayana) influences, although Mahayana Buddhism became the dominant form during the Sui Dynasty. An innovation of the Sui-Tang period is the visual representation of the sutra – Mahayana Buddhist teachings transformed into large complete and detailed narrative paintings.
One of the central features of Tang art in Mogao is the representation of the paradise of the Pure Land, indicating the increasing popularity of this school of Mahayana Buddhism in the Tang era. The iconography of Tantric Buddhism, such as the eleven-headed or thousand-armed Avalokitesvara, also started to appear in Mogao wall paintings during the Tang period – it became popular during the Tibetan occupation of Dunhuang and the subsequent periods, especially during the Yuan dynasty.
While Buddhist art is stylistically distinct from secular art, the style of paintings in the caves often reflects that of contemporary secular painting (insofar as we know of this), especially those depicting secular scenes. Donor figures are generally depicted in secular style, and may include secular events associated with them. For example, scenes depicting General Zhang Yichao, who ruled over Dunhuang in a quasi-autonomous manner during the Late Tang period, include a commemoration of his victory over the Tibetans in 848. The portraits of donors increased in size during the period ruled by the Cao family who succeeded the Zhang family. The Caos formed alliances with the Uyghurs (Uyghur Gansu Kingdom and Kingdom of Qocho) and the Saka Kingdom of Khotan and their portraits are featured prominently in some of the caves.
Many of the figures have darkened due to oxidation of the lead-based pigments from exposure to air and light. Many early figures in the murals in Dunhuang also used painting techniques originated from India where shading was applied to achieve a 3-dimensional or chiaroscuro effect. However, the darkening of the paint used in shading over time resulted in heavy outlines which is not what the painters had originally intended. This shading technique is unique to Dunhuang in East Asia at this period as such shading on human faces was generally not done in Chinese paintings until much later when there were influences from European paintings. Another difference from traditional Chinese painting is the presence of figures that are semi-nude, occasionally fully nude, as figures are generally fully clothed in Chinese paintings. Many of the murals have been repaired or plastered over and repainted over the centuries, and older murals may be seen where sections of later paintings had been removed.
The Maijishan Grottoes (simplified Chinese: 麦积山石窟; traditional Chinese: 麥積山石窟; pinyin: Màijīshān Shíkū), formerly romanized as Maichishan, are a series of 194 caves cut in the side of the hill of Majishan in Tianshui,Gansu Province, northwest China. This example of rock cut architecture contains over 7,200 Buddhist sculptures and over 1,000 square meters of murals. Construction began in the Later Qin era (384-417 CE).They were first properly explored in 1952-53 by a team of Chinese archeologists from Beijing, who devised the numbering system still in use today. Caves #1-50 are on the western cliff face; caves #51-191 on the eastern cliff face. They were later photographed by Michael Sullivan and Dominique Darbois, who subsequently published the primary English-language work on the caves noted in the footnotes below.
The name Maijishan consists of three Chinese words (麦积山) that literally translate as "Wheatstack Mountain", but because the term "mai" (麦) is the generic term in Chinese used for most grains, one also sees such translations as "Corn rick mountain". Mai means "grain". Ji (积) means "stack" or "mound". Shan (山) means "mountain". The mountain is formed of purplish red sandstone.They are just one of the string of Buddhist grottoes that can be found in this area of northwest China, lying more or less on the main routes connecting China and Central Asia.
These Wei caves are fairly simple and most follow the pattern of a seated Buddha flanked by bodhisattvas and other attendants, sometimes by monks or lay worshippers. The most common Buddha is Amitābha, the principal Buddha of the Pure Land sect. Amitābhaenables all who call upon him to be reborn into his heaven, the "Pure Land". There they undergo instruction by him ultimately to become bodhisattvas and buddhas in their own right. This was a very popular school of Mahayana Buddhism during this period.
The bodhisattvas who accompany him are usually Avalokitesvara on the Buddha's right, and Mahasthamaprapta on his left. Avalokitesvara can be identified by his headdress which holds a small image of the Buddha Amitābha, and the fact that he often carries a small water flask. Sometimes he holds a heart-shaped, or pippala-leaf shaped object (which art historians still can't positively identify). Mahasthamaprapta is slightly more difficult to identify, but this is the usual pairing with Avalokitesvara (who will, in a few hundred more years, change gender and morph into the Goddess or Bodhisattva of Mercy, Guanyin).
The monks are usually the two most famous associated with the historical Buddha: the younger Ananda, and the older Kasyapa, although sometimes the monks are simply generic monks. We also find statuary of nuns and lay worshippers and donors.Standing near the doorways guarding the Buddha and his entourage are often pairs of dvarapala or the four Heavenly Kings (lokapala).There are also statues of the historical Buddha, Sakyamuni, and the Buddha of the Future, Maitreya, recognizable by his seated position, legs crossed at the ankle. Some of the statues of the historical Buddha show Gandharan influences from Central Asia. The clue is in the volume and drapery of the robes as well as the shape and proportions of the statue's body and head.
Nearly all of the statuary at Maijishan is made of clay with the addition of some sort of binding agent to help preserve the sculpture. When stone sculptures appear (for example, in caves 117, 127, 133 and 135), they are generally made of sandstone, and many are exquisite. The sandstone is reported not to be indigenous but instead of unknown origin. It is also unknown where the statues were made, or how they were hauled up into the caves. Of special note is Cave 133 with 23 stone stele.While there are many examples of Wei statuary, there are fewer examples from the Northern Zhou, which replaced the Wei with more solid, massive, and sculptural forms. The influences mentioned earlier that came from India (and perhaps SE Asia) begin to be apparent in this period and the subsequent Sui, when stiffly posed figures are replaced by more liquid tribhanga stances.
Interestingly, one of the most common types of caves found at both Dunhuang and Yungang—that of a cave with a central shaft—is not found at Maijishan.We have almost no records of Maijishan during the Tang, a period during which it was probably in part under the control of the Tibetans as a result of the An Lu-Shan rebellion (who saw an opportunity to swoop in and capture Chang'an and its regions). Because both Dunhuang and Maijishan were under Tibetan occupation in 845 CE, the year of the great Buddhist persecutions, both were fortunately saved.Today, we can find some Tang sculptural influence in the powerful modeling of some of the guardian deities, for example, the very large dvarapala on the narrow open terrace from which lead the Seven Buddha Halls.
Experience the Wonderful Art of Buddhist Grottoes and Fresco Paintings in China
The speech will be given by professional , experts on historical grottoes and fresco paintings:
D1. Arrive in Urumuqi, met and transferred to hotel.
D2.visit Regional meusem for whole historical along Silk Road and western regions. Drive to Turpan
D3. visit Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves,Gaochang ruins. after noon,visit Jiaohe ruins， Karez irrigation system. train to Kuqa after dinner,overnight in train
D4.arrive in Kuqa, a full day visiting for Kizil Thousand Buddha caves,Subashi ruins, Kumtura Thousand Buddha Caves,etc.
D5. catch flight from Kuqu to Urumqi, then catch day train from Urumqi to Dunhuang.
D6. a full day for visiting Mogao Grottoes.
D7. catch train or flight to Lanzhou.
D8. Drive to visit Binglingsi Grottoes.
D9.Catch day train from Lanzhou to Tianshui, visit Majishan Grottoes.
D10. Drive to Baoji, visit Famensi Temple and Buddha relics, then go to Xi'an.
D11. Full day tour in Xi'an for historical sites, such as: XIngjiaosi temple, Terra-cotta Army museum.
D12. Catch day train to Luoyang, visit Longmen Grottoes
D13. visit White Horse temple, then drive to visit Shaolinsi Temple,stay in zhengzhou
D14. catch train to Datong.
D15.visit Yungang Grottoes and Huayansi temple, Nine Dragons Wall.
D16. Catch train to Beijing. End of the speical culture and art experience.