Kizil Cave Temple Introduction

2016-5-31 10:20| 发布者: 武子| 查看: 1747| 评论: 0|来自: Nomination Dossier

摘要: (1) Contribution to the Silk Roads’ OUV The Kizil Cave-Temple Complex is the earliest, largest and most influential remains among extant Buddhist caves in the Western Regions. Built from 3rd century ...






(1) Contribution to the Silk Roads’ OUV

The Kizil Cave-Temple Complex is the earliest, largest and most influential remains among extant Buddhist caves in the Western Regions. Built from 3rd century AD to 9th century AD and situated in ancient Kucha Region south of Tian-shan Mountains, the Kizil Cave-Temple Complex owns variety cave types and longest duration. Besides its significance as representative Kucha Caves, Kizil Buddhist caves and temples, as the westernmost cave and temple complex since the transmission of Buddhism in China, reflect influences from Buddhist art in India, Central Asia and northern Central China. It stands both as a model of Western Regions Buddhist cave temple, but also a media between Indian and northern Central China Buddhist arts. Its unique cave pattern and mural style clearly demonstrate Buddhism’s dissemination via the Western Regions eastbound and formation of Kucha style when Buddhism localized along with the transmission. It is one of the most important Buddhist remains along the Silk Roads.

(2) General information

The Kizil Cave-Temple Complex is situated in Kizil Town, Baicheng County, Xinjiang, China. The remains include Buddhist caves, architecture remains in front of the caves. The caves are excavated into the cliff of Mingwutage Mountain in Weigan Valley (named Muzat River Valley near the caves). Sugete Valley stretching from north to south cuts the mountain into two, which divides the caves into four natural groups: west ravine, inner ravine, east ravine, and rear hill. The Kizil Caves extend from east to west for 1.7 km, scattered on various levels of the cliff. There exist 34994 caves from 3rd century to 9th century with 10000 square meters of murals, a small number of sculptures, and a number of architecture remains in front of the caves. In terms of the cave type, there are central-pillar caves, great Buddha caves, square caves, monk’s quarter caves, niche caves, special-shaped caves, and a large variety of cave combinations. Central-pillar “Kucha-style Cave” is the most typical cave with murals of Hinayana Buddhism theme, such as the Jataka stories and Karma tales. The many extant postholes and chiseled traces on the cliff outside caves are remnants of wooden architectures in front of caves95. Inscriptions and documents of many languages have been discovered (including Brāhmī, Chinese, Turkish, Uyghur, Chagatai, etc.), together with documents, coins, textiles, glasses, metal products, paints, Buddhist Scriptures, wood carvings, ancestor worship pottery of Tang Dynasty and many other relics originated from many different regions along the Silk Roads.

(3) Attributes

As an important Buddhist cave-temple complex in the ancient Kucha region96 in Tian-shan Southern Route, the remains in the cliff caves from 3rd century to 9th century reflect the transmission of Buddhist architectural style, which was originated in India and spread to the Western Regions, as part of religious interchange via the Silk Roads. Variety cave types preserved in Kizil, especially the cave remains dating from 3rd century to 5th century, the most abundant murals of Hinayana globally, the “central-pillar cave (Kucha style cave)” and “great Buddha cave” as original creation, reflect distinctive western features and exhibit fusion of Indian cave style into Chinese tradition to become the unique Kucha style, which exerted considerable influence on Buddhist cave art in Hosi region, Longyou region, Central China, as well as Central Asia. Meanwhile, the unearthed multi-language instruments are associated edivence to interchange activities between various religions and cultures.

The central-pillar Kucha-style cave built from 3rd century is the most characteristic and prominent creation of Kizil Caves, with over 60 caves including Cave 38 as the most typical examples. This cave type originates from Indian Chaitya cave with a stupa as its center, takes into account the structure of sandstone in Kizil, combines the burial customs of nomadic people in Central Asia, and thus forms the innovative and unique central-pillar cave, or socalled “Kucha-style cave”97. The central pillar joins the cave ceiling to support it, and divides the cave into the front room and the rear room. This cave type spread eastwards and profoundly influenced Dunhuang Caves in Hosi Region, Longmen Grottoes and early and middle Yungang cave style in Central China.

Great Buddha cave among Kizil caves built in 4th century is the earliest one of this type to be carved in the world. In six caves, represented by Cave 47, there stand great Buddha over 10 meters high, hence the name of “great buddha cave”. The tradition of sculpting great Buddha inside a cave cast a powerful impact on cave carving east of Xinjiang and even probably the west of Pamirs and Afghanistan98.

The Kizil Cave-Temple Complex preserves abundant cave styles, including central-pillar caves, great Buddha caves, monk’s quarter caves, Meditation cave, butsudan cave, preaching hall cave, and a large variety of cave combinations99 to become the cave with the most complete cave types in China.

Abundant Buddhist narrative murals are preserved in Kizil caves, mainly Śākyamuni story murals such as Jataka stories, Karma tales and Buddha’s life stories. There are more than 100 kinds of Jataka stories and Karma tales, and over 60 kinds of Buddha’s life stories, reflecting Śākyamuniworship in Hinayana Buddhism prevalent in Kucha region. The abundant contents of Buddhist narrative paintings, surpassing those in India and Central China, witnessed the prosperity of Kucha as Buddhist center in Tian-shan Southern Route along the Silk Roads.

Kizil caves exhibit the communication of Buddhist art and music on the Silk Roads with Buddhism as the carrier. The cave murals integrate the Hellenistic Gandhara art and the Indian Mathura art with West Asian artistic elements, reflecting distinctive western features. The figures of early period murals (3rd – 4th century), such as the standing Buddha in the astronomical mural on the Cave 118 ceiling, the sitting Buddha on the main wall of Cave 92 and above the entrance of the left corridor in Cave 47, demonstrate a distinctive western style, especially the influence of Gandhara Buddhist art; the style of figures in Cave 83, 84 of 5th century resemble that of Indian Mathura Buddhist art; the popularization of figure’s curve, namely “tribhanga” in 6th-7th century, displays the impact of Indian Gupta Buddhist art; in Kizil Thousand-Buddha Cave there appear linked-pearl emblazonry prevailing in Sasanian Persia. These exotic elements provide sufficient evidence to the integration of various styles of Buddhist art on the Silk Roads, and its further dissemination to the east of Xinjiang; in other words, Western Asian and Indian art spread to the east along the Silk Roads. The music playing and dancing scenes100 in Kizil Caves corroborate with Kucha dance prevalent in the courts of Sui and Tang Dynasty and later the entire East Asia, as recorded in the documents of Central China, to prove the dissemination of music and dance along the Silk Roads.

Various inscriptions and documents are discovered in the caves (written in ancient script such as Brāhmī, Chinese, Turkish, Uyghur, Chagatai, etc.), together with a large amount of paints from Persia such as lazurite used in Kizil murals. Valuable relics such as Persian painter image in Cave 207 (the painters cave), Syrian painter inscriptions in Cave 212 and ancestor worship pottery of Tang Dynasty illustrate the abundance of products and communications among various cultures on the Silk Roads.

Murals in Kizil Cave-Temple Complex illustrate the race, clothing, religion as well as scenes of working, living and dancing of Kucha people to provide precious testimony to the disappeared Kucha civilization. The working and living scenes of Kucha people in the murals reflect its unique life style fusing the customs of West Regions and Central China. Along with the Buddhist arts and music aforementioned, the caves vividly exhibit the prosperity of Kucha as an important kingdom on the Silk Roads.







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