The Mogao Grottoes
- Cave 329

The Mogao Grottoes Cave 329 Early Tang Dynasty(A.D.618-712)

Constructed in the Early Tang and renovated in the Five Dynasties and Qing dynasty, this cave has a truncated pyramidal ceiling. In the ceiling center is a pattern of a large medallion composed of lotuses in the center, looking like a five-colored Dharma wheel, and it is surrounded by circles of various motifs such as the clouds, honeysuckles, flowers, triangles, and draperies.The four slopes each depict three apsaras flying around the center in a same direction. At the bottom are the thousand Buddha motifs. A niche is dug out of the west wall, containing a central seated Buddha flanked by two disciples and four bodhisattvas. All except the torso, costume and the diamond throne were renovated or painted in the Later Qing dynasty. On the two sides of the niche, the thousand Buddha motifs are painted in the upper and incarnated boys on lotuses are painted below. There is a desk with offerings on it and six bodhisattvas at the bottom of the west wall, most of which are blurred. The upper part of the south wall presents an illustration of the Amitabha sutra, in which the pavilions and platforms are separated by green water and the buildings are connected by various bridges. Amitabha is in the center, and on the platforms on both sides of Amitabha are groups of bodhisattvas respectively led by Avalokitesvara or Mahasthamaprapta. On the platform below the central Buddha are bodhisattvas, disciples, and music and dance scenes. In the pond there are different magic birds including Kalavinka.The lower part of the south wall depicts three Buddhist nuns and twenty-three female donor figures. The upper part of the north wall is occupied with an illustration of the Amitabha sutra (two pieces were taken away by Langdon Warner), which was divided into two sections from top down. The center of the upper section shows a preaching scene of Maitreya Bodhisattva in Tusita Heaven based on The Sutra of Maitreya\'s Rebirth up in the Heaven. The other parts show the three Assemblies of Maitreya under the dragon flower trees. The first assembly is under the preaching scene in the Tusita Heaven and the second and third are respectively painted on the left and right sides. The lower part of the north wall contains seventeen male donor figures. There are four preaching scenes in the space above the entrance wall. The north and south sides of the entrance wall respectively depict a preaching scene in the upper part and female and male donor figures in the middle. There is a row of donor figures and chariots drawn by oxen. The tent-like ceiling of the corridor has story paintings of the Five Dynasties in the center and five Buddhas in meditation on both slopes. On the south wall are three Buddhist monks and on the north a male donor figure. The ceiling of the front chamber is occupied by the illustrations of Amogha-pasa, thousand-armed and thousand-eyed Avalokitesvara and Cintamani-cakra, all partly damaged, in the space above the entrance in the west wall there is an inscription of the Five Dynasties, and on its both sides are scenes of Vaisravana meeting Nezha. Both the north and south sides of the entrance depict a scene of eight dragon kings worshipping the Buddha painted in the Five dyansties, though obscured. There are traces of disciples and bodhisattvas on both the north and south walls in the front chamber.



The Mogao Grottoes Cave 329
Dunhuang Academy