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.
REFERENCESD’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.
N. S. NIKOLAEVA and V. A. RUBIN