Silk road Dunhaung the Crescent Moon Lake

Dunhuang A Brief Survey
Dunhunag is situated at the westernmost end of the
Hexi Corridor. It was the most important station on the Silk Road and was once called Sha. It has an area of 31,200 square kilometers and a population of around 110,000,most of whom are Han; the ethnic minorities include Hui, Tibetan, Mongolian, Kazak, Tu, Tong, Miao, Man, Yugur, and Korean. In Dunhuang,farming land occupies over 230,000
mu; the main crops are wheat, corn, cotton, melons, fruit, and vegetables.
Scenic Spots:
Dunhuang is the scenic highlight of the Silk Road in
China and certainly the major attraction for Gansu tourism. The world--famous Mogao Grottoes are located 25 kilometers southeast of Dunhuang. The caves are hewn in the steep cliffs at the eastern foot of Mingsha Mountains. They are both the greatest treasurehouse of Chinese classical art and
the center of Buddhist art.
Buddhism is one of the major world religions;it advocates the theory that living beings are in a state of misery and stresses self--cultivation during the present in search of liberation from the cycle of reincarnation. These thoughts were spread to China by way of Buddhist scriptures and art
and were merged with traditional Chinese culture and art.As a result ,a unique Buddhist literature and art was formed and Mogao Grottoes are the witness to such dissemination and mergence.
Mogao Grottoes
Mogao Grottoes were begun in 366 AD. It is said that
when a monk named Le Zun passed this place ,he saw a sudden shining of golden light in which a thousand buddhas seemed to have'revealed themselves; he believed that this was a sacred place for Buddhists. He collected money from all around and cut the first grotto. This news spread fast and passing merchants and travellers all donated money for the
construction of grottoes in hope of a safe journey. This project lasted more than 1,000 years, up until the Yuan Dynasty. The total number of grottoes is 491 in which there are over 2,000 sculptures and 45,000 square meters of murals.
If Dunhuang was made famous by Mogao Grottoes ,then it is the murals ,especially the story telling murals ,that made Mogao Grottoes known far and wide. The story murals center mostly on Buddhist thought. They are roughly divisible into the following categories:scriptures, the biography
and stories (jatakas) of the Buddha,and other Buddhist historical records. They advocate the spirit of self--sacrifice and altruism.
For example,the stories of King Nine--Colored Deer (Cave 257),Prince Sudana Granting an Elephant (Caves 419,423,428) ,Prince Mahasattva Feeding Tigers with His Own Flesh (Caves 55,85,428),King Sudhira Giving His Eyes Away (Cave 275), and King Tchandraprabha Giving His Head Away (Cave 275).


They also advocate discipline and filial piety, e. g. :a Sramanera Commits Suicide for Discipline (Caves 257 and 285);Sujati Slices Off His Own Flesh to Feed His Parents (Caves 85 and 296) ,Samaka Waits upon His Parents in Deep Mountains (Cave 293).
The theory of retribution is depicted in Bhiksuni Patacara (Cave 296) and Inborn Hatred (Cave 171). The Power of the Buddhist Dharma is depicted in Sumati Invites the Buddha (Cave 257), Raudraksa's Battle with Sariputra (Cave 196). The human origins of Buddhas are depicted in Biography of the Buddha (Cave 290) and Five Hundred Bandits Become Buddhas (Caves 285 and 296). These murals encouraged Buddhists to practice perseverance as in the Illusion City in Lotus Sutra (Cave 217)and imitate the ways of self--cultivation as depicted in the Sixteen Meditations in Inborn Hatred.
The style of mural art reveals the exchange and blending of Chinese and Western cultures despite differences in dress depicted in the early murals. The human figures and their costume in the murals of the Northern Liang are mostly Indian and Persian: prominent noses and eyes , naked above the waist,and dressed in cloaks ~Western Wei murals
depict the handsome features of the Southern Dynasties and reflect the introduction of the Central Plains' style and the sinicization of mural art . In the Northern Zhou, with the fusion and harmonization of the Han and other ethnic groups
in Dunhuang and the expansion of the Chinese and western cultural communications, the two art styles Central Plains and Western Regions----moved from co--existence to blending. As the depictions of the human figure indicate , the handsome features of the Central Plains were mixed with the Western Regions' style of a strong constitution and round facial features and produced a new image with the strong points of both. Their dress has also changed from the original bodhisattva and Western Regions' style to ordinary clothes. Art of the Sui period inherited this blend,freed itself from outside influences and further developed a distinct Chinese national art form. From that time to the high-Tang, the mural art in Mogao Grottoes advanced toward perfection.
The development of the colored sculptures shows the
same trends. These sculptures are of four sorts.tall , paste, relief,and free standing. They are mainly images of the Buddha and his disciples,gods and goddesses, flying devas,lay men,animals,picture patterns and niche lintel adornments.The early scupltures bear the influence of India and the
Western Regions in their facial expression , stature, and dress ;while in the Western Wei,they became handsome figures of the Southern Dynasties. The scupltors of the Sui Dynasty sought to break the restrictions of carving only Buddha images ,shatter the bondage of the artistic standards from outside ,and create images of local color and characteristics. In the Tang Dynasty,the sculptures were natural and well-proportioned with plump facial features of fine complexion. On this basis,there were gradual improvements.West Thousand - Buddha Cave The West Thousand - Buddha Cave is located in a cliff on the Dang River 35 kilometers south of Dunhuang. It was built about the same time as the Mogao Grottoes . It is a component of the overall Dunhuang art complex;there are 16 grottoes. Most of these have a central seat with a Buddha sculpture and niches all around and numbered story murals on the walls. In one cave of the Northern Wei ,the sto-
ries of Raudraksa's Battle with Sariputra and Samaka are painted on the eastern and western sections of the south wall;they are not found in the Northern Wei caves of Mogao Grottoes.
Mingsha (Whistling Sand) Mountains and Yueya (Cr-
escent Moon) Spring The Mingsha Mountains extend 40 kilometers east-to- west, 5 kilometers to the south of Dunhuang~the average breadth is 20 kilometers. The southeast peak, 1,715 meters above sea level, is the dominant point of the sand mountains. The sands, sparkling in the sun ,are of several colors:
red ,yellow,green,white,and black. Sliding down from the top you will hear an extraordinary whistle or even a sound of thunder under certain conditions.
There are several popular explanations for the
whistling sound that occurs in these mountains. One story goes that a general and his soldiers were defeated .here and their corpses formed a huge pile ; during the night,a strong wind blew the sand so that it buried their bodies;however,
their drums and horns are still audible. Another story says that when the two armies were fighting,a great wind arose and all the soldiers were buried alive by the shifting sand. The whistling is the sound of their continued fighting. Still another legend has it that a village here was buried by the
drifting sand during a Spring Festival when all the people were celebrating the new year ;so the whistling is the beat of their drum and their music. While these stories are pure fic- tion, they have added some legendary flavor to Mingsha
Montains. What is more wonderful is that the mountains embrace a never--drying spring in the shape of a half moon. Half-- Moon Spring has been a scenic wonder for a long time and it has enjoyed fame as the "First Spring Under Heaven". It is
218 meters long and 54 meters across at the widest place and has an average depth of 5 meters. It has survived the drifting sands and lies there pure and bright as it was thousands of years ago. As people could not account for such a marvelous
sight,they made up a very interesting story about its origin.
During the Han Dynasties,General Li Guangli went on a punitive expedition against the Dawan Kingdom and obtained a celestial horse. Passing Mingsha Mountains on his way back he was suffering badly from thirst. He thrust his sword into the sand but no water came out. At this moment,
Avalokitesvara arrived. She poured out a few drops of magic water from her bottle and chanted incantations so that the Sand Dragon was locked up and the Half--Moon Spring was formed.
Yang and Yumen Passes:
Yang and Yumen Passes were two important passes a-
long the Silk Road closest to the Western Regions and their remains have become one of the tourist attractions of Dunhuang. Yang pass was situated 70 kilometers southwest and Yumen Pass, 88 kilometers northwest of Dunhuang. The ancient Yang Pass which was believed to have been on the Gudong (Curios) Beach at the western corner of the South
Lake Village of Dunhuang no longer exists. The ruins of Yumen Pass, however, are well -- preserved. Beacon towers stand at several kilometer intervals along the 70 kilometer distance between the two passes. From the castle of Yumen Pass the remains of the Han section of the Great Wall can be clearly seen.
White Horse Pagoda
White Horse Pagoda is located south of the old town of
Dunhuang. It is 12 meters high with a diameter of about 7 meters. It was built in memory of the white horse of Kumarajiva, the. famous Buddhist monk and translator. Kumarajiva wa~ an Indian born in the Qiuzi Kingdom (Present Kuqa of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region). He left home in
his childhood and received a strict religious education. When he grew up ,he became very well--known in the Western Regions. Emperor Fu Jian of the Former Qin sent General Lu Guang against Qiuzi and won Kumarajiva and some cultural treasures. On the way back,Kumarajiva's white horse died. Out of respect for the famous monk, local people
buried the horse and built the pagoda in its memory.
Local products:
Dunhuang Blankets
Dunhuang blankets are known for their depiction of
Dunhuang art patterns. Made of high quality wool,they are exquisitely beautiful and lustrous.
Crystal Spectacles Made from natural rock crystals ,there are plain spectacles as well as spectacles for the myopic,presbyopic,and color blind..

Mingsha Dates
These large,sweet lustrous dates are produced at the
foot of Mingsha Mountains.
Liguang(Plum Bright) Apricots
These golden colored apricots are juicy and have a sugar content of 9,5 percent. They are bright and smooth as plums and ripen in July.
Ziyan Peaches
Ripening in September, these peaches are hairless,
bright,sweet,soft,juicy,and have a greenish--violet color.They are also known as Liguang Peaches.
Dunhuang grapes are beneficial for vital energy and
physical health. They also improve urinary function.




Turfan Pogada