Skip to comments.Buddha's caves
Posted on 07/11/2008 7:01:15 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
Of the 800 or so caves created here from the 5th to 14th centuries, nearly half had some form of decoration. What survives adds up to a developmental timeline of Buddhist art in China...
But of course much of it has not survived. By the 11th century Dunhuang's fortunes were in decline. Sea trade had cut into Silk Road traffic. Regional wars left the town isolated. Monks, possibly panicked by rumors of an Islamic invasion, sealed up tens of thousands of manuscript scrolls in a small cave. The invasion didn't happen, but the books, many of them already ancient, stayed hidden and forgotten, as Mogaoku itself was for centuries...
In the late 19th century a wandering Taoist priest named Wang Yuanlu settled down and started a ruinous program of "conservation," discovering the bricked-up library cave with its precious scrolls in the process. He didn't know it, but he had made of one of the most important archaeological finds of modern times...
In 1907 the British explorer Aurel Stein arrived. For a pittance he bought around 5,000 silk and paper scrolls from Wang and sent them to England. Some were paintings and banners; the bulk were religious and secular books in Chinese, Sanskrit, Tibetan, Mongolian and other regional languages...
Of all Stein's books the prize was a ninth-century woodblock copy of the Diamond Sutra, or the "Sutra of the Perfection of Wisdom of the Diamond that Cuts Through Illusion." As if defying the scripture's insistence on transience as the only reality, this marvelous scroll is the earliest known dated example of a printed book, six centuries older than the Gutenberg Bible.
(Excerpt) Read more at iht.com ...
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Ananova - May 12, 2004
A Chinese star chart possibly dating from the 7th century AD mapped the heavens with an accuracy unsurpassed until the Renaissance, according to research.
The Dunhuang chart is the oldest manuscript star map in the world and one of the most valuable treasures in astronomy.
The fine paper scroll, measuring 210 by 25 centimetres, (82 by 10 inches) displays no less than 1,345 stars grouped in 257 non-constellation patterns.
Such detail was not matched until Galileo and other European astronomers began searching the skies hundreds of years later - and they had the advantage of telescopes.
Hunting scene? Hunting a two-headed dragon in the sky...while the ocean 'waves' swamp the land and reach higher than the mountains...whilst black 'blobs' rain down. Image of a catastrophe.
Up there with Catherine Wheels or swirling meteors?
Etruscan. 'Typhon' Mural. Perhaps the the artists heard the same legends - saw the same celestial phenomenon?
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