Reference work entry
The Dunhuang Grottoes are also known as the Mogao Grottoes. They are one of the four major grottoes in China and a World Cultural Heritage Site. These grottoes are located in the cliffs on the eastern foothills of Mingshashan, 25 km southeast of Dunhuang, Gansu Province. These grottoes are the world’s largest of this type and have abundant and well-preserved Buddhism artefacts. The grottoes extend approximately 1,600 m from north to south in five levels. Their construction began in the Early Qin Dynasty of the Sixteen Kingdoms period and continued through the Sixteen Kingdoms, Northern Dynasty, Sui Dynasty, Tang Dynasty, Five Dynasties, Xixia State and Yuan Dynasty. To date, 735 caves, 45,000 m 2of wall paintings and 2,415 painted clay statues have been discovered. Since these grottoes were built on a cliff that is mainly composed of sandy conglomerate cemented by mud and calcium, the rock and earth texture are comparatively loose, rendering the rock unsuitable for stone sculpturing....
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