The hall cave was sponsored by the couple of Cao Yuanzhong, military governor of the Gui-yi-jun regime as their family temple in the tenth century, part of the murals were renovated in the Song dynasty. It is located at the lower level on the middle section of the Southern Area at Mogao and it is one of the largest caves at Mogao, consisting of a front chamber, a corridor and a main chamber. There is a two-stepped central altar in the center of the hall. It is called the hall of Manjusri in Dunhuang documents. The main chamber has a truncated pyramidal ceiling, and the ceiling center features a large parasol motif, in the center of the parasol are five lotuses, a entwining dragon and parrots. On the four slopes are preaching scenes surrounded by the thousand Buddha motifs. The four arch recesses in the four corners of the ceiling respectively depict the four great heavenly kings, namely, Dhrtarastra in the southeast recess, Virudhaka (mostly damaged) in southwest, Virupaksa in the northwest, and Vaisravana in the northeast recess. On the south, north, and east walls are eleven sutra illustration altogether and below these illustrations are Buddha's life stories and donor figures. The whole west wall is covered with a large-sized map of Mt Wutai (13 meters long and 3.6 meters high). On the upper part of each sidewall are five sutra illustrations, below them are thirty-three screen paintings illustrating Buddha's life stories. There are also tens of donor figures of the Cao family and inscriptions preserved on the east, north and south walls. The statues on the central altar are completely destroyed, only the traces of the paws of a lion can be seen on the back screen on which traces of some images are visible. On the upper part of the east wall is a Vimalakirti sutra illustration and below are donor figures. On the ceiling of the corridor is a six-fold medallion pattern with draperies on the two slopes. On the south and north walls of the corridor are images of Tejaprobaha Buddha and Eleven Star Gods, the zodiac, and alms-begging monks and nuns. There are inscriptions in both Tangut and Chinese. In the Yuan dynasty, the Huangqing Temple was built in front of the cave, which was renovated in 1351 by Suleiman Khan, King of Xining.
The paintings on the east wall consisting of two parts. The upper part illustrates the Vimalakirti sutra in large size with a upper scene and two side scenes. Vimalakirti and Manjusri are respectively painted on the north and south sides of the entrance. In the picture on the north side, Vimalakirti sits in a square tent in the center, behind the tent are bodhisattvas listening to the debates. Manjusri sits on a throne. Below them are Chinese emperors and leaders of various ethnic minorities. The lower section of the east wall depicts donor figures. According to the inscriptions, The first one in Uighur costumes starting from the south side is Cao Yijin's wife, princess of Uighur. The second one in Uighur costumes is Cao Yuanzhong's sister, who was married to Uighur Khan in Ganzhou, the third one wearing a phoenix crown is Cao Yuanzhong's another sister, who married the King of Khotan, and the fourth one is Cao Yijin's wife, Cao Yuanzhong's mother, Lady Song. The latter few are members of Cao Yuanzhong's sister generation. The order of the four donors reflects the attitude of the Cao family to the Uighur kingdom in Ganzhou and Khotan through marriage. The donors from the first to the seventh on the north side were all repainted in the Song dynasty. The first three donors are bhiksunis, and only the inscription of the third donor is complete, indicating the third donor's name is the aunt of a monastery officials in the Anguo Temple, and the next three donors are princesses of Ganzhou Uighur. They were all members of the Cao Family. The seventh donor in luxurious costumes, wearing a phoenix and a hairpin, is a princess from Khotan. The latter donors on the north side were all portraits painted in the time ruled by Cao Yuanzhong, and they were from the powerful families at Dunhuang, including the Yin family, the Suo family, and the Murong family. This reflects that the Cao family strengthened their control through political marriage with the other kingdoms.
Mogao Grottoes Cave 061 Main Chamber South Wall
The south wall is divided into a upper section and a lower section. The upper section depict five sutra illustrations, namely the Lankavatara sutra, Maitreya sutra, Amitabha sutra, and Panikarasuttau sutra illustrations from west to east, all followed the fixed pattern of previous sutra illustration in composition. There are three basic composition: enclosed frame, open frame and symmetrical structure. Below them are seventeen female donors, among them the fourth one counting from the east is Lady Zhai according to the inscription. The latter nine screen paintings respectively illustrate nine events of Buddha's life: seeking a tutor; receiving offerings; spreading the deer skin clothing on the ground; Dipamkara Buddha's prediction; Kshatriya belonging to the royal family; A celestial being's blood dropping into the soil, and a boy and a girl emerging from the place; the Conception; Maya's return to the city; Birth under the tree.
Mogao Grottoes Cave 061 Main Chamber West wall
On the west wall is a large map of Mt. Wutai with 15 screen paintings below. The map is 13 m long, 3.6 m high, consisting of the upper, middle and lower parts. The upper part mainly describes various scenes of bodhisattva attending assemblies as wells as the miracles of all the gods of the sun and the moon, arhats, and dragons; the middle part depicts the five peaks of Mt. Wutai, the tens of temples and Buddhist pagodas in the mountains; and the lower part describes in detail an area of five hundred li from Taiyuan in Shanxi to Zhenzhou (today's Zhengding) in Hebei, including various landscapes, roads and people going to Mt. Wutai. There are 195 cartouches, 46 of them are about miraculous events, 85 about temples (including aranyas, nunneries), 15 about pagodas, 32 about the names of places, 12 about the priests visiting Mt. Wutai, and 5 about others. The fifteen screen paintings on the lower part starting from the north side respectively illustrate the stories of the Annunciation, Bathing of the Prince, Prediction of Asita, and Lady Maya's Death; Living with aunt; Going to school at eight years old; Learning skills, Visiting the farming work; Meditation under the tree, Building temples for three seasons, Discussing Marriage, Marriage of the Prince, Enjoyment in the palace; Four Encounters, and Great Departure.
Mogao Grottoes Cave 061 Main Chamber North Wall
The south wall is divided into a upper section and a lower section. The upper section depict five sutra illustrations, namely the Ghanavyuha-sutra, sutra of Deva's questions, sutra of the Medicine Buddha, the Garland Sutra, and the Visesacintabrahma-pariprccha sutra illustrations from west to east, all followed the fixed pattern of previous sutra illustration in composition. There are three basic composition: enclosed frame, open frame and symmetrical structure. Among them, the garland sutra illustration is divided into a upper part and a lower part, respectively describing the scenes of nine assemblies in seven places and the Avatamsaka sea. Each scene has a cartouche in detail. Below them are sixteen female donors and nine screen paintings illustrating the nine events of Buddha's life: the Great Departure, the torsure, Channa going back to the city; being provided with milk; defeating Mara, the First Preaching, liberating human beings and celestial beings; Nirvana under the trees, worshipping the relics of the Buddha.
Mogao Grottoes Cave 061 Main Chamber East Slope
In the center of the thousand Buddha motifs on the east slope is a preaching scene of Buddha Aksobhya.
Mogao Grottoes Cave 061 Main Chamber South slope
In the center of the thousand Buddha motifs on the south slope is a preaching scene of Pyadundubhi Meghanirghosa.
Mogao Grottoes Cave 061 Main Chamber West slope
Most of the west slope is covered with the thousand Buddha motifs, and on the lower part are six apsaras and two attendant bodhisattvas.
Mogao Grottoes Cave 061 Main Chamber North slope
In the center of the thousand Buddha motifs on the north slope is a preaching scene of the Most Superior Voice Buddha.
Mogao Grottoes Cave 061 Main Chamber Ceiling Center
The ceiling center features a grand parasol design, in the center of the parasol are five lotuses and an entwined dragon and a parrot. Around them are decorative circles of connected pearls, rectangular spirals, medallions, and a pair of phoenixes and a pair of Chinese unicorns, and at the outermost are draperies and chains of jades.
Mogao Grottoes Cave 061 Main Chamber Back Screen
Mogao Grottoes Cave 061 Corridor South Wall
There are a row of molded square patterns in relief, in each of which are a Buddha. Below them is a grand scene of Tejaprobaha Buddha with nine star gods. The east and lower part of the pictures are damaged. In the center Tejaprobaha Buddha sits in lotus position in a two-wheeled chariot. His index finger of the right hand supports a golden disc and his left hand in dhyana mudra. The front part of the chariot is partly lost. In the back of the chariot are flags. The star gods crowded from three sides. Counting from the east, the first star god only has the upper body left, and it is too obscured to identify it. The second is a lady in green, and she holds something in hand, just like Pipa, this is the Venus. Most part of the third is destroyed, only a part of the halo and a hand holding a round thing left. His identity remains unknown. The fourth one like a heavenly king who wears a donkey-shaped crown and has four arms. The two lower arms hold a halberd, and the two upper hands respectively hold a bow and a rope. This is the Mars. The fifth one in front of the chariot wearing an unknown beast-shaped crown and holding a staff is supposed to be Saturn. The sixth in the back of the chariot in green and pushing the chariot with one hand is partly damaged, and his identity remains unknown. The seventh is on the right side of the chariot, looking like a lady, wearing a bird-shaped crown and holding a round thing in hands, this is the Moon. The eighth in secular costumes on the left side behind the chariot, holding a round thing in hand, is the Sun. The ninth with green body, half naked and four armed, holding a spear, a rope, a sword and a man's head in hands, is Rahu. The Buddha, together with the Nine star gods and the Lunar mansion star gods above are basically rendered in the same image: in civil official's clothes, holding a scepter, in groups of four standing in the colorful clouds. Now there are only five groups survived. Among them there are the Zodiac, each sign is a circle, in which the image is painted. Now there are nine left, and they are Taurus, Virgo, Aries, Capricorn, Libra, Gemini, Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. The lower part on the west side has a female donor with a cartouche on her right side in both Tangut and Chinese. Below the inscription are several inscriptions in both Uighur and Mongolian.
Mogao Grottoes Cave 061 Corridor North Wall
There are a row of molded square patterns in relief, in each of which are a Buddha. The east and lower part is lost. The twenty-eight star gods painted on the upper are basically rendered in the same image: in civil official's clothes, holding a scepter, in groups of four standing in the colorful clouds. Now there are five groups left. Below them are the nine planet gods, and four of them have survived today. Counting from the east to the west, the first one remains unknown because only the chest is visible. The second, shaped like a civil official, with plumes in his crown, is supposed to Jupiter. The third one, also like a civil official, holding a scepter, with a green cloud emerging from his arm and waving to the east of his head, on which is a round thing, is supposed to be the Sun. The fourth one, like a woman, holding pipa, is Venus. There are two rows of monks on the lower part of the west side, each row consists of five persons. The inscriptions of the donors are all written in both Chinese and Tangut, suggesting they were all alms-begging monks. There is a figure in red rob between the nine planet gods and the monk, only the upper body preserved, remains unknown. There is a inscription on the west side of his head, too blurred to identify. Behind is a bhiksu holding a parasol. Among them there are the Zodiac, each sign is a circle, in which the image is painted. Now there are nine left, and they are Taurus, Virgo, Aries, Capricorn, Libra, Gemini, Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces.
Mogao Grottoes Cave 061 Corridor South Slope
In the center of the corridor ceiling is six-fold medallion motifs of the Yuan dynasty, and on two slopes are draperies.
Mogao Grottoes Cave 061 Corridor North Slope
In the center of the corridor ceiling is six-fold medallion motifs of the Yuan dynasty, and on two slopes are draperies.
Mogao Grottoes Cave 061 Corridor Top
The corridor was renovated in later times. Part of the east side of the tent-like ceiling is damaged. On the south side of the east ceiling of the corridor is cave 63, while the north side is cave 62, both built in the Sui dynasty and damaged while building cave 61. The two caves can be seen from the east end of the corridor. In the center of the corridor ceiling is six-fold medallion motifs of the Yuan dynasty, and on two slopes are draperies.
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Dunhuang Grottoes is not only a brilliant art treasure of ancient Chinese civilization, but also an important witness to the dialogue and communication between different civilizations that had taken place on the ancient Silk Road. Guided by cultural relics protection philosophy, this Digital Dunhuang Project is pursuing overall digitization, including collection, processing and storage of the Dunhuang Grottoes and related cultural relics by using advanced science and technology. It integrates all kinds of data including the photos,videos,3D data and other literature data into a digital repository of cave cultural relics which is diversified and intellectual, and can be co-shared globally through Internet. A support system will also be constructed for digital asset management system and digital resource science.
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