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Economic Geography

Grottoes in Dunhuang

The Mogao Grottoes lie about 25 kilometres from the county seat of Dunhuang in Gansu Province. There are 1,000 Buddha caves in Dunhuang containing some of the world's finest art. They were cut out in the steep cliffs at the foot of Mingshan Mountain. Today, over 492 caves still remain.

The most important cave is preserving Buddhist Scriptures Cave. Many caves have stories. One of the most famous is outlined in a series of pictures about a woman who was badly treated by her husband. While returning to her mother, she encountered a wolf that killed her two children, one of them newly born. After becoming a nun, she learned that her current miseries were a punishment for mistreating her stepsister in a previous incarnation.

Buddhism was introduced to China, via the Silk Road, in the first century A. D. Beginning in the fourth century, these grottoes were a secret place for Buddhist pilgrims. They were created over a period of a thousand years. The grottoes give a graphic picture in art form of the life and activity of the people of those early times.