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xiniang kuche

xinjiang kuche tianshan mystery grand canyon


Kizil Thousand-Buddha Caves
Surrounded by luxuriant forests, the Kiztl Thousand-Buddha Caves huddle against the Mingiiytag Mountains facing the Muzati River and the Qortaq Mountains in Baicheng County. The earliest of these caves were hewn out in the third and fourth centuries or before, with Buddhist grottoes reaching their peak of popularity in the sixth and seven! h centuries. After five to six hundred years of development, they gradually started to decline at the end of the eighth century after the Tibetan regime attacked and occupied Qiuci. There are a total of 236 grottoes at Kizil, 135 of which remain largely intact. Among them are grottoes for monks to worship Buddha and preach scriptures and others which were used as meditation cells and living quarters, complete with stoves and heatable brick beds. A group of different types of caves together formed a unit, which might serve as one monastery. This reminds us that the Kizil Cave s were a center for many monasteries thronged with monks, an arrangement rarely found elsewhere in China.
Statues and mural paintings are found in the larger caves only. Most of the statues including several huge figures of Buddha have been damaged, but preserved murals cover a total area of 5,000 square meters.Mostof them portray the lifeofBuddha, the principal and subsidiary causes of Karma and stories of Buddha's earlier incarnations.
There are two kinds of stories about the life of Buddha. One kind
of painting interprets his biography, portraying the whole life of Buddha from birth to death in a narrative sequence in a series of pictures covering all four walls of square caves . The other kind highlights Buddha's deeds after attaining Enlightenment. These paintings were executed on the two side walls of the main room in caves with a central bay column. Each painting tells an independent story. Some murals feature the themes of the Defeat of Mara, the Enlightenment and setting in motion the Wheel of Truth and Salva-tion in Deer Park. These appear in a prominent position on the wall above the door and the central wall of the main room. Nirvana is also an important theme of Buddhist stories and paintings on this theme, fully depicting events before and after Nirvana, were executed on the walls of back rooms in Kizil's larger caves. No other grottoes in China can boast of such a rich collection. The principal and subsidiary causes of Karma depict all living creatures making offerings to Buddha and portray His supernatural powers, while "Buddha's earlier incarnations" show how Buddha undergoes rigorous ascetic disciplines in his earlier incarnations. Most paintings of these stories cover the ceilings of the caves. Each ceilingis divided into a number of squares, and each square contains a painting portraying a story. As the squares are fairly small, each picture shows only a few figures with a limited background, depicting the story concisely. This kind of grotto painting-within-a-square is unique in China. At Kizil there are more than one hundred stories on these two themes portrayeci in mural paintings, which is the greatest number ever found in grottoes in China. Other murals portray Maitreya preaching the Law and monks practising meditation. Apart from religious images, the painters often featured scenes of farming, hunting, trade caravans, music and dances, and minority nationalities. The numerous pictures of the coming and going of the trade caravans depict the difficulties and hardships confronting traders on the Silk Road. The mural paintings in the Kizil Caves are masterpieces of the Qiuci painters. Their designs are fresh and ornamental, while the figures, characterized by features of the local minorities, are lifelike and three-dimensional. The Kizil Caves are one of the earliest and largest groups of grottoes in China. The special shapes of their caves and the themes and artistic style of their mural paintings profoundly reflect the influence of Buddhism in Qiuci and represent the culture and art of the Qiuci people, with a number of the paintings giving a graphic des cription of various aspects of actual life.

In 1961 the Kizil Caves appeared on the first list of key cultural relics to be put under state protection, and there are plans to turn them into a center for the study of Buddhist art in Xinjiang and a scenic spot for tourists.
Kumtura Grottoes Kumtura is the largest group of grottoes in Kuqa County, and in 1961 they were added to the first list to be drawn up of key cultural relics under state protection. This group of caves, numbering 112 altogether, perch on hanging cliffs over the Weigan River thirty kilometers southwest of the Kuqa County seat. Tourists visiting Kurntura look down onto a breathtakingly beautiful scene matched in splendor by the magnificent grottoes themselves. The grottoes were first constructed in the fourth century, when Buddhism entering from India had already established itself. The synthesis of traditional Qiuci culture with the styles and techniques introduced from abroad created an outstanding art characteristic of its time which became typically Qiuci. In Grotto 46, there is a mural which tells the story of Buddha's earlier incarnations. The painter drew the outlines with thick strokes, then brushed ocher over them to give a three-dimensional appearance. He put Qiuci costumes on Buddha and the bodhisattvas in the form of coats with drooping collars. In Grotto 32, a mourning bodhisattva in a painting of Nirvana was drawn with easy and flowing lines, a fine example of Qiuci technique. ' .
The larger number of mural pain tings in the Kumtura Grottoes were executed during the Tang Dynasty, and in both content and style, they were closer to the art of the Central ?Iains. There are large paintings portraying the stories 'of "The Pure Land of the West ," "The Pure Land of Bhaisajyaguru of the East ," the "Lotus Sutra" and "Maitreya." With teeming imagination, the painters
blended reality with fantasy and drew vivid pictures of sedate Buddhas and bodhisattvas, graceful, serene and full of human in-terest, and scenes of the Pure Land where colorful clouds coil in the sky, pavilions and towers rise on the shore of a blue lake on which ducks swim and play among lotus flowers in full bloom while birds fly and hover above. -In the mural painting portraying the story of "The Pure Land of Bhaisajyaguru of the East" in Grotto 16, pairs of devatas fly grace-fully through the heavens, wearing coronas of blossoms and stream-ing ribbons. They indicate the joyful anticipation of future life, and in them the rich imagination of the artist is given full expression. The landscape paintings display distant mountains, nearby waters, ripples and waves. Houses, pavilions and towers were drawn in perspective with light and shading, and light ink strokes were used to show the shading and texture of rocks and tree trunks. These techniques obviously reflect the painting style of the Central Plains in the heyday of the Tang Dynasty. Many paintings of the same period combine .this style with the local Qiuci style, for example a painting depicting mourning bodhisattvas in Grotto 36 was drawn using both fine and thick lines with a faint wash of color, creating elegant and graceful images. These mural paintings are the result of the cultural exchanges took place between the ancient people of Qiuci and the Central Plains, which also had an impact on the art of painting within China. Lying at the southern foot of the Tianshan Mountains on the Silk Road, Qiuci was the 'crossroad of the great cultures of Greece, Iran, India and China. Nevertheless, the painters of Qiuci did not mechan-ically copy and imitate, but ingeniously absorbed certain foreign elements and fused them with their own art. The major character-istic feature of the Kumtura murals is the integration of the variable line thickness of the Central Plains with the local color shading technique giving a three-dimensional effect to form a unique Qiuci style. The painters of Qiuci used ornamental designs to set off illusory religious stories, applying this method on a large scale to the many square paintings covering the ceilings of grottoes, which portray "Buddha's earlier incarnations" and "the principal and subsidiary