Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves
The Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves were first chiseled in the Qu Gaochang State (499-640 AD) and have passed through the long period of the Tang Dynasty, the Five Era Period, the Song Dynasty and Yuan Dynasty, with only 83 still preserved. They are displayed in three layers among which more than forty are equipped with frescoes, with the total coverage of the preserved fresco about 1200 square meters.
Among all of these caves, the 18th, 29th, and 48th caves belonged to Qu Gaochang Period, while the 16th, 17th, 25th, 27th, 31st, 42nd, and 69th caves belonged to the Xizhou Period of the Tang Dynasty. During this period Bezeklik was an important Buddha Temple Center in the Xinjiang area. It was also called Ningrong Temple and the Bezeklik Grotto developed into one of the holiest places of Buddhism in the area of the West Yard. The 14th, 20th, 31st, 33rd, 39th, 41st, and 82nd caves belonged to the Huihu Gaochang Period. Most of the Kings of the Gaochang State built caves there and the relics in these caves were among the richest found anywhere.
As to the themes of the frescoes, there is a wide variety: all kinds of Bodhisttva statues, large scaled scripture paintings, parlance paintings, the thousand Buddha caves, and the eight parts of the flying dragon in the sky. Other themes include the statues of the four emperors, the Bodhisttvas on the list of the ancestors sacrificed, the statue of Biqiu and other decorated patterns, and the stories about how Sakyamuni made himself among the Buddha after generations of sincere sacrificing to the Buddha.
In the late 13th Century, the east movement of the royal house of Gaochang State and the introduction of Islam led to the gradual decline of Buddhism, correspondingly the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves also started to decline. This decline was aided by destruction wrought by pagans, as well as the thievery of enemy states such as Russia, Germany, Britain and Japan . The Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves suffered severe damage, and what is left now is truly a fortune for all of China.
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