Overview

Tun-huang


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A settlement in the desert area of north-western China that formed the terminal point for the Silk Road. A former Buddhist centre located on the borders of China, it flourished as a cosmopolitan frontier town between the 6th and 12th centuries ce and used much of its wealth to excavate the famed cave-temples, known as the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas, and decorate them with stunning murals and statues. As well as Chinese Buddhism.Tibetan Buddhism was also influential here during the 8th century when the region was under Tibetan rule. It was in one of the caves that the French scholar Paul Pelliot discovered a huge cache of manuscripts in many languages including Chinese, Tibetan and Uighur that had been concealed in the 9th century for safety during a period of civil unrest and then left undisturbed for centuries after. This priceless collection of manuscripts, which has thrown light on many aspects of contemporary central Asian and Chinese history and culture, was removed from Tun-huang by Pelliot and Sir Aurel Stein and divided between the British Library in London and the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, with smaller holdings in Beijing and Copenhagen. The earliest examples of Chinese movable-type printing, as well as the earliest versions of many Buddhist texts, emerged from this find, making it an invaluable source for the history of Buddhism in China, India.and Tibet.

Subjects: Buddhism.


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