A Selective Chronology for Buddhist Caves in China

Date

Cave

Remarks

4th (?) -7th c.

Kizyl/Qumtura

Obvious Indian influence; "Dome of Heaven," "Lantern Ceiling".

420s

Mogao Cave 272

Gandharan style sculpture; "Dome of Heaven"; "Lantern Ceiling".

450s

Mogao Cave 259

("Treasure Stupa" from Lotus Sutra; "Han style" and Indian style frames for niches.

460s-470s

Yungang

Indian style facades; pagoda pillars; "western" style decorative elements; Gandharan style sculpture; Hindu deities; theme of "Treasure Stupa" from Lotus Sutra.

470s

Mogao Cave 254

Stupa pillar; Sivi and Mahsattva Jatakas.

535-545

Mogao Cave 249

Ceiling imagery mixes Chinese tradition and Buddhist belief; note Xiwangmu, Queen Mother of the West.

538-539

Mogao Cave 285

Vihara architecture; Indian deities; ceiling imagery with Chinese traditional iconography.

565-576

Mogao Cave 428

Stupa pillar; gable roof; decorative "Lantern" ceiling

642

Mogao Cave 220

Vimalakirti/Manjusri; early image of Western Paradise of Amitayus/Amitabha; cave repainted in 9th-10th century with Khotanese "miraculous icons".

690s

Mogao Cave 96

The "Great Northern Buddha," a female Buddha Maitreya built by orders of Empress Wu.

710-720

Mogao Cave 217

Western Paradise, accompanied by Queen Vaihedi's meditations; Lotus Sutra, including Parable of Conjured City.

mid-8th c.

Mogao Cave 45

Avalokitesvara/Guanyin and illustration of "Gateway to Universal Salvation" chapter of Lotus Sutra.

? 2nd half 9th c.

Mogao Cave 237

Khotanese miraculous icons.

865

Mogao Cave 156

Honoring Zhang Yichao; his military procession.

892

Mogao Cave 9

Khotanese icons in corridor.

914-925

Mogao Cave 98

Dedic. by Cao Yijin; image of King of Khotan [possibly 936].

947-951

Mogao Cave 61

Dedic. by Cao Yuanzhong; full wall picture of Manjusri's Mountain--Mt. Wutai and its monasteries.

1308-1311

Mogao Cave 465

Tibetan esoteric imagery.

2000 Daniel C. Waugh