Mogao Grottoes
- Cave 420

Mogao Grottoes Cave 420

Constructed in the Sui dynasty and partly repainted in the Song and Western Xia dynasties, this cave has a truncated pyramidal ceiling and a niche in each of the south, west and north walls. This cave is also known as the Three-niche cave. The ceiling features laternendecke motifs and lotuses, the center is a three-rabbit motif. In the corners of the motifs are boy-like apsaras, and out of the corners are winged beasts. The outerframe of the square center is decorated with the patterns consisting of honeysuckles, lions and connected pearls. More outside are draperies extending to the four slopes where large-sized sutra illustration are depicted. Each scene is separated by the trees, flowers, temples, fountains, or lotus ponds and clouds. However, the density and discolor of these paintings on the four slopes make it very hard to decipher, therefore, opinions about the contents of the four slopes differ. There are mainly two opinions: 1. they are painted according to the Lotus Sutra, and 2. they are painted based on the Lotus Sutra and the Nirvana Sutra. This description accepts the first opinion. The west niche has a double-recessed entrance with a square bottom and an arch top, housing a seven-figure group: a seated Buddha, two disciples, four bodhisattvas. There upper of the two sides out of the niche is devoted to the Vimalakirti sutra illustration, the image of Vimalakirti on the south and that of Manjusri on the north. Below them are five disciples and four bodhisattvas. On the lower part of the west wall are pictures of the offerings and bodhisattvas painted in the Song dynasty. Both the south and north walls have a square shallow niche in the center housing the statues of a seated Buddha and two bodhisattvas. There are several marks of sovatthika (meaning auspicious) on the lower brim of the kasaya. Around the niche are thousand Buddha motifs. below the niche are bodhisattvas painted in the Song dynasty. There is a preaching scene on the space above the entrance in the east wall, below the preaching scene is an inscription of the Song dynasty (already blurred). To the north of the inscription are two male donors of the Song dynasty, and to the south are one female donor (vague) and a bhiksuni (Buddhist nun). The upper part of the south side of the entrance is covered with the thousand Buddha motifs of the Sui dynasty, and the lower part with six male donors painted in the Song dynasty. Along the entrance is a treasured pagoda of the Song dynasty. The north side of the entrance depicts the thousand Buddha motif of the Sui dynasty in the upper and four female donors and a bodhisattva of the Song dynasty below. Along the entrance is also a treasured pagoda of the Song dynasty. The corridor was repainted in the Western Xia. A medallion pattern is in the center and the draperies are painted on two slopes. Each of the south and north walls have two bodhisattvas. The front chamber was repainted in the Western Xia. On the west slopes are traces of some medallion motifs, beneath which are the Sui dynasty paintings. There is a small niche dug out of the space above the entrance in the west wall, which contains paintings of bodhisattvas and flowers. Out of the niche is a temple image. There are two preaching scenes on the upper part of both the south and north sides of the entrance, and there are vague paintings of donor figures below the preaching scenes. On the north and south walls are part of the draperies and halos. There are donor figures of the Song dynasty beneath the top layer of the paintings.



Mogao Grottoes Cave 420
Ttruncated Pyramidal Ceiling
Mogao Grottoes
Dunhuang Academy