Family Matters: Nirvana Caves

Sonya S. Lee

in Surviving Nirvana

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9789622091252
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882207448 | DOI:
Family Matters: Nirvana Caves

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This chapter discusses the largest reclining Buddha statue ever attempted, housed in a cave temple located near the southernmost tip of Mogao Caves outside Dunhuang. Known by today's numbering system as Cave 148, the structure was built literally to contain an eighteen-meter-long sculpture in an elongated, box-like interior with barrel-vault ceiling. In addition to Cave 148 of the Li family from the eighth century, a previous generation of the same clan also commissioned Cave 332 in 698. Both of the sculptures were built at critical moments in Dunhuang's history as a local response in support of Empress Wu's reign in the capital. Unlike any cave with a Buddhist pantheon so prominently displayed in the west niche as in Cave 45, both Caves 332 and 148 do not allow their viewers to see the colossal statue from the front of the cave.

Keywords: Li family; Cave 148; Cave 332; Mogao Caves; Empress Wu; Dunhuang

Chapter.  21644 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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