Mogao Caves unseco
The Mogao Caves (莫高窟), also has other names, including the Thousand Buddha Grottoes or Caves of the Thousand Buddhas. In 1987, the site was inscribed upon the UNESCO World Heritage List. Mogao Caves consists of 750 caves, over 490 of them with mural paintings such as paradise, and angels, on five levels hewn into an escarpment in the desert. They are housing about 45,000 square meters of murals and more than 2,000 painted sculptures.*
The construction of the Mogao Caves begun in the fourth century AD. A monk named Lè Zūn lived in the Sixteen Kingdoms (AD 304 - 439) had witnessed onsite a vision of thousand Buddhas under showers of golden rays. It inspired him to build a cave here. The rulers of Northern Wei and Northern Zhou constructed many caves here, and it flourished in the short-lived Sui Dynasty. By the Tang Dynasty, the number of caves had reached over a thousand.
The art of Mogao Caves covers a lot of genres, such as architecture, sculpture and mural. 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. Early murals showed a strong Indian and Central Asian influence in the painting techniques used.
* Adapted from UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/440, 13, Oct 2019.