A Brief Survey
Anxi is on the vast Gobi Desert at the western end of the Hexi Corridor. It was another important station on the Silk Road. In the past,it was called Gua -- -- " melons". In the 24,130 square kilometer area ,more than 340,000 mu are under cultivation;the main crops are wheat ,corn ,and broad beans. It is one of the important bases of grain pro-duction in Gansu. Animal husbandry is developing fast on the 2,650,000 mu natrual grassland. Anxi is also known for its rich mineral resources: gold, silver, copper, iron, alu-minium ,lead, zinc,manganese mirabilite, marble, serpentine, granite ,quartzite ,dolomite ,limestone ,basalt ,and others.
Yulin Grottoes,a branch of the Dunhuang art complex, are located 75 kilometers southeast of Anxi. They are also named Ten—Thousand Buddha Valley. There are 41 major caves and hundreds of others scattered around. It is not yet clear when the caves were first cut. Judging from the background and the cave formation, experts have determined that they were not begun later than the Mogao Grottoes. Murals in these grottoes consist of huge scripture drawings,portraits of Buddha, rare animals and plants ,and scenes of plowing, harvesting, weddings, banquets, chess, brewing,ironsmelting,music and dancing. The big scripture drawings on the southern and northern walls of cave 25, in composition,techinque of expression ,line drawing, coloring and human image reveal the artists' skillfulness and accura-cy. They are authentic portrayals of the highly developed art of painting in the Tang Dyansty more than 1300 years ago and are praised as the essence of the Yulin Grottoes. In the drawing of the "Western Purelandn, the artist, with his great skill of condensation,described the various scenes in the grand, tranquil, and illusory Buddhist after—world. On the northern wall is the drawing of Mitreya Buddha depict-ing the ideal world to come predicted by the Buddha. Man-jusri and Samantabhadra with female devas on the western wall and Buddha Losana and Bodisattva Avalokitesvara on the eastern wall are all life—like.