Mogao Grottoes
- Cave 172

Mogao Grottoes Cave 172 High Tang Dynasty(A.D.713-766)

This is a hall cave with a truncated pyramidal ceiling constructed in the High Tang period. The ceiling center is a medallion enclosed by circular network, and in each of the four corners is an apsara. The four slopes are covered with thousand Buddha motifs. A niche with a flat ceiling in the west wall contains a seven-figure group: a Seated Buddha with legs pendent flanked by two disciples and four bodhisattvas, all renovated in the Qing dynasty. Except two bodhisattvas sit with one leg bent and one pendent, all the others stand. On the two sides of the nimbus are six painted disciples. There is a bodhi parasol on the ceiling of the niche. On each of the two sides out of the niche is a heavenly king statue, and an apsara is painted along the niche on either side.Both the south and north walls are covered with a large-sized Amitayus sutra illustration, while the layout of the figures, buildings and space arrangement of the one on the north wall are more pleasant to look at. Compared with the Early Tang sutra illustrations, the combination of the figures, the layout of the buildings, and the treatment of the perspectives displayed greater artistic refinement, especially the perspective. The hall in the center is the main body of the architecture, and it looks grand when painted in a low angle. Those buildings on the two sides are in a high angle, looking vast. The pavilions in the back are depicted at the eye level, looking deep. In this way, the focus is on the symmetry axis, slightly upward, creating a focus perspective, and making it a perfect patchwork of palace groups.On the space above the entrance in the east wall is a pureland illustration. On the south side are four bodhisattvas including Kistigabha and Avalokitesvara above the Samantabhadra illustration, the lower part is obscured. On the north side are four bodhisattvas including Bhaisajyaguru Bodhisattva above a Manjusri illustration, and below is a row of female donor figures of the Song dynasty(obscured). In the landscape,the ethereal mist and waving ripples painted at one stroke reflect the achievements of combining the line drawings with the haloing techniques in the landscape.On the tent-like top of the corridor are a large medallion, and on the south and north slopes are draperies of the Song dynasty. On the south wall are three attendant bodhisattvas of the Song dynasty (already obscured). The middle is the entrance of Cave 173. On the north wall are four attendant bodhisattvas of the Song dynasty, only three are preserved.The damaged ceiling of the front chamber shows traces of the Song dynasty sutra illustration. There is an inscription on the space above the entrance in the west wall, which was flanked by the scenes of Vaishravana attending Nezha\'s assembly. On the two side of the entrance are the Vimalakirti sutra illustration, in which Vimalakirti is painted on the north side and Manjusri on the south side. The image of an thousand-armed and thousand-eyed Avalokitesvara on the south wall was badly damaged due to the hole cut through the wall. There is also a hole in the image of thousand-armed Manjusri with a bowl in each hand on the north wall, and above the hole is a picture of five dhyana Buddhas.



Mogao Grottoes Cave 172
Dunhuang Academy