The Mogao Grottoes
- Cave 254

The Mogao Grottoes Cave 254 Northern Wei Dynasty(A.D.368-534)

Constructed in the Northern Wei dynasty, and located on the middle section of the cliff, this is the earliest central-pillared cave at Mogao. It has a gabled ceiling in the front and a flat ceiling in the back. Under the two ends of the beam of the gabled ceiling and the molded rafters on both slopes are wooden brackets, a structure of Traditional Chinese architecture. Between the rafters are images of celestial beings holding lotuses.The flat ceiling in the back is connected to the ground by the central pillar, which has niches in all four sides for various statues. The large niche in the east side contains a cross-legged Maitreya Bodhisattva, which was originally flanked by four attendants, and now there is only one on the south side and two on the north side. On both sides of the nimbus on the west wall in the niche are attendant bodhisattvas respectively above Vasistha and Mrgasirsa. On the ceiling of the niche are apsaras. The lintel is decorated with reborn children on lotuses. The niche beam shaped like a dragon is supported by two pillars wrapped in painted silk. Most molded figurines on the two sides or above the niche have been damaged, only a few are preserved. The other three sides each have two niches, one above the other. The upper niches shaped like the Chinese traditional gateway on the south and north sides each contain a cross-legged Maitreya bodhisattva, while the lower arch niches contain a dhyana Buddha. The upper niche shaped in the form of two spreading trees and the lower arch niche in the west side each contain a dhyana Buddha flanked by two attendant bodhisattvas out of the niche. There are molded figurines on the two sides and above the upper niche, which are blackened by sootiness. On the four sides of the central pillar below the niches are images of yakshas.A niche with the Chinese styled gateway is dug out of the side walls under the gabled ceiling and contains a cross-legged Maitreya bodhisattva. And four arch niches are made in each of the side walls in the back, respectively contains a preaching Buddha or a dhyana Buddha. Among them the heads of the Buddha statues in the south wall are all partly damaged, while two in the north wall are well preserved.The top section of the four walls are used for heavenly musicians, and below them are thousand Buddha motifs, in which each Buddha has an inscription beside indicating his title. There are totally 1235 Buddhas. The west sides of both side walls each contain a preaching scene, and in the center of the west wall is a preaching scene of a white-robed Buddha.The middle registers of the south and north walls under the niche in the front are covered with Jataka tales and Buddha\'s life stories. On the south wall is an illustration of Mara\'s Attack, and to its west are scenes of the Sattva Jataka. On the north side is the karma story of Nanda, and to its west is the Sibi Jataka.There is a successive decorative border consisting of algebra motifs such as checkboards and lozenges and plants like transformed lotuses and twisted honeysuckles on the four walls which separate the upper thousand Buddha motifs, preaching scenes and story paintings from the lower images of the yakshas.There is a window above the entrance. On both sides of the entrance and the window are thousand Buddha motifs. A part of a Sui Dynasty preaching scene is preserved on the north wall of the corridor.



The Mogao Grottoes Cave 254
Dunhuang Academy