Xinjiang Turphan Thousand Buddha Caves, China

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Turphan Thousand Buddha Caves

The Thousand Buddha Caves is located on the cliff, which lies on the west side of Wooden Ditch River in Turphan.

The grottos are about 50 kilometers away from the Turphan City and near the famous Flaming Mountain. The grottos became popular and attracted tourists since Han Dynasty (206B.C. ~219A.D.).

Today, they are the best-preserved grottos, which have the most abundant contents. The drawings on the wall and colorful statues in the grottos help us understand the history of the nationalities in Xinjiang Province.

The construction of the Thousand Buddha Caves took 800 years, it was from the Southern and Northern Dynasty (more than 1000 years ago) to Yuan Dynasty. It is hard to tell the exact number of the grottos there is, but among them, 77 grottos has been named by the Relics Protection Unit of the State Council of China.

There are more than 40 of them had protected wall drawings. The area of the drawings is more than 1,200 square meters. Some of the works in the grottos were done on the cliff; some were made from clay along the cliff.

Every grotto has its own characteristic and it represented different style of the workmanship. Han and Huihu languages had written side by side in the grottos. This tells us, that their relationships were quite deep then.

Most of the grottos are rectangles and squares; the rectangles are a little more as we can see now. There are a great many different forms of the grotto tops, and each dynasty has its own top style. Among the wall drawings, there is a three meters high Buddha, which had a red robe and a precious stone belt.

It is the masterpiece of the grottos; his has a handsome guise with his head turning one side and feet on a lotus. In the grotto No. 39, there is a drawing about funerals of the princes from different countries. The drawing tells us about the images, the clothes, and the relationships of the Western Nationalities. A famous ancient poem also describes the golden years of the Thousand Buddha Caves.

The grottos have suffered from terrible distortions. The history book says that the foreigners had stolen many valuable wall drawings and statues from some of the grottos.