The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a city in China in the western part of Kansu Province. Population, 33,000 (1950). In the first millennium A.D., Tunhuang was an important center on the Great Silk Road, which connected China with southern and western Asia and with Europe. About 14 km southwest of the city is the Buddhist cave monastery of Ch’ilnfotung (Caves of a Thousand Buddhas, A.D. 353-366). Over 480 caves have been preserved—the largest is Mokao (366)—-containing sculptures and wall paintings executed in size paint on a dry ground (fourth-14th centuries). The wall paintings of the fourth to the sixth centuries—multifigured scenes illustrating Buddhist legends—are friezelike symmetrical compositions, creating an effect of decorative patterns. In caves from the sixth to the llth centuries, the wall paintings are unified by a single theme (Buddhist sermons, landscapes, and scenes from everyday life). These paintings often cover entire walls and are noted for their lifelike imagery and dynamic composition.

In 1899 more than 20,000 manuscripts in various languages of China, India, and Middle and Southwest Asia were discovered in one of the caves with about 150 scrolls of Buddhist iconographic works mainly from the eighth to the tenth centuries. Early examples of Chinese printing were also found. In 1907 an expedition led by A. Stein sent many of these finds to the British Museum; some of these works of art are now in the Peking Library.


D’iakonova, N. V. “Buddiiskie pamiatniki Dun’khuana.” In Tr. otdela Vostoka Gosudarstvennogo Ermitazha, vol. 4. Leningrad, 1947.
Vinogradova, E. V. “Vydaiushchiisia pamiatnik kitaiskogo natsional’nogo iskusstva.” Vestnik istorii mirovoi kul’tury, 1958, no. 2.
Chiang Liang-fu. Tunhuang: Weitati wenhua paots’ang. Shanghai, 1956.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch: The Text of the Tunhuang Manuscript.
-- (1992) "The Structure and Genesis of the Old Tibetan Chronicle", in Turfan and Tunhuang Studies, edited by Cadonna et al., pp.123-43, esp.
The Art of Chinese Landscape Painting in the Caves of Tunhuang. New York: Crown Publishing.
There is a trend, nowadays, among Tibetan Tibetologists to read the Tunhuang texts in less dogmatic and fideistic terms than the previous generation of Western Tibetologists and to see interpolations in them.
The Introduction to the Tunhuang Annals and the Tun-huang Chronicles document that it was not Gung srong gung btsan who was in command in 641-645 but Srong btsan sgam po.
See Antonino Forte, Political Propaganda and Ideology in China at the End of the Seventh Century: Inquiry into the Nature, Authors, and Function of the Tunhuang Document S.
See, e.g., Lionel Giles, Descriptive Catalogue of the Chinese Manuscripts from Tunhuang in the British Museum (London: The British Museum, 1957), 53-62.
He presents the edited Tibetan of a Tunhuang manuscript of the sutra, supplemented by four other Tunhuang manuscripts and thirteen classical (Kanjur) editions.
30, 34, 38 and 43; and idem, Tunhuang Painted Sculpture (Beijing, 1978), pls.