The mysterious face of 200 caves north of the Mogao Caves has been unveiled and will be made into a new tourist route, said Fan Jinshi, the dean of the Dunhuang Research Institute.
Situated at a strategic point along the Silk Route at the crossroads of trade as well as religious, cultural and intellectual influences, the 492 cells and cave sanctuaries in Mogao are famous for their statues and wall paintings, spanning 1,000 years of Buddhist art.
But what are these caves for? The most influential discovery from the last century suggested they were the residences for painters or sculptors.
What is the truth?
Since 1988, the Dunhuang Research Institute, led by Peng Jinzhang, have undertaken six excavations in seven years. They have corrected the wrong opinion about the Mogao Caves and discovered a number of precious cultural relics.
The caves were used by monks for living and studying and had nothing to do with painters and sculptors.
The caves are divided into six different uses: study, kitchen, bedroom, closet, meeting room and living room.
Developing the new route could offset the number of tourists who visit the south of the Mogao Caves. It's also good for the preservation of the drawings inside the caves, Fan said.
Following are the paintings inside Mogao Caves:
(CRI August 26, 2006)