Dunhuang Caves In China

Dunhuang and the Cave of ManuscriptsDunhuang has 492 caves, with 45,000 square meters of frescos, 2, 415 painted statues and five wooden-structured caves.

The Mogao Grottoes contain priceless paintings, sculptures, some 50,000 Buddhist scriptures, historical documents, textiles, and other relics that first stunned the world in the early 1900s.

Dunhuang is an oasis town in Chinese Central Asia west of Xian, a former capital of China.

To the west of Dunhuang lies the Taklamakan Desert. The silk road coming from the west split to follow the northern and southern borders of the desert where there were many small oases.

Dunhuang was the town where the two branches of the silk road rejoined for the final leg into China’s capital.

The cave-temples near the town of Dunhuang form what is arguably the world’s most extraordinary gallery of Buddhist art: a gallery whose magnificent mural paintings and stucco sculptures were not collected from distant sources but were created in situ over a period of nearly a thousand years. Moreover, one particular cave contained a sealed library whose contents, consisting of written documents, silk paintings and woodblock prints, reflect contacts with every major Buddhist centre of both Central Asia and the Chinese empire.

The town was founded by Emperor Wudi of the Han dynasty in 111 BC as one of the four garrison commanderies which assured Chinese control over the trade routes to the western regions. For several hundred years after the collapse of the Han empire (206 BC-220 AD), the area was subjected to successive waves of invasions, which often caused great upheaval. For example, in 439, conquest of the area by the Northern Wei (386-535) led to a relocation of thirty thousand of its inhabitants to the dynastic capital in Shanxi province.

In 781, during the Tang dynasty (618-906), Dunhuang surrendered to the Tibetans after ten years’ resistance. When Chinese rule was restored in 848, one local family assumed power, to be followed in the tenth century by other powerful clans. Dunhuang was last considered a place of importance when it was under the control of the Western Xia kingdom (990-1227) and the Mongol Yuan dynasty (1271-1368).

From the time of the Han to the end of the Yuan, a most important trade route developed from China to the West, which later became known by the marvelously evocative name, The Silk Road. The ancient traveler leaving China along this road would pass through Dunhuang before braving the many hazards of the journey westwards through East Turkestan (present-day Xinjiang). Dunhuang has a special place in history because of its location close to the parting of the northern and southern routes that skirted the impassable Taklamakan desert.

Silk was traded along this seven thousand kilometre braid of caravan trails from China right across Asia to the eastern Roman empire on the shores of the Mediterranean, and also to south Asia. Persian and Sogdian merchants travelled the whole length, and were such familiar sights in the Chinese capitals Chang’an (present-day Xi’an) and Luoyang that they can frequently be found, for example, portrayed on Tang dynasty figurines.

This route was also used by Buddhist monks from China and Korea traveling west in search of images and scriptures, and by ambassadors and princes from the west making the long journey to China. It was by means of the Silk Road that all manner of exotic imports reached China, as diplomatic gifts or through trade, and mainly in exchange for silks: vessels made of gold and silver and the techniques for working these metals; fine glass; fragrances and spices; exotic animals such as lions and ostriches; new fruits such as grapes; dancers, musicians and their instruments.

After the splendours of the Tang dynasty, however, trade along the Silk Road was severely curtailed, and Dunhuang was left in isolation. Later trade between China and Europe was entirely by sea. By the late nineteenth century, with the decline of Chinese imperial power, the whole of Central Asia, including Dunhuang, was a political void which invited foreign interest from many sides, including Britain, France, Germany, Russia and Japan. This provided the opportunity for the “rediscovery” of ancient cultures and treasures along the trade routes.

It was not just merchandise, technology and culture that passed along the Silk Road. From the early centuries AD, learned monks from the monastic centres of Central Asia imparted their knowledge and interpretations of the scriptures to their Chinese counterparts by way of these trade routes.

Representatives of Zoroastrianism, the ancient Persian dualist religion, and of Nestorianism, an Eastern Christian sect, also reached China and established themselves there.

Founded in the sixth century BC, Buddhism soon began expanding northwards from the foothills of the Himalayas. In the third century BC, under its most influential convert, the Indian emperor Asoka, it was dispersed by missionaries across Central Asia, where it remained dominant for about a thousand years, until invaders in the seventh century AD brought in Islam.

In China itself, Buddhism was introduced probably as early as the first century BC, with communities of Buddhist monks in existence by the first century AD. Learned Buddhist monks became valued as palace advisors, and it was through imperial and aristocratic patronage that Buddhism made its first substantial progress in the empire. Because of its vitally important position on the Silk Road, virtually every stage of this progress is chronicled in the caves at Dunhuang.

The Thirteen Tombs of the Ming Dynasty

At a distance of 50 km northwest of Beijing stands an arc-shaped cluster of hills fronted by a small plain. Here is where 13 emperors of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) were buried, and the area is known as the Ming Tombs.

Construction of the tombs started in 1409 and ended with the fall of the Ming Dynasty in 1644. In over 200 years tombs were built over an area of 40 square kilometres, which is surrounded by walls totalling 40 kilometres. Each tomb is located at the foot of a separate hill and is linked with the other tombs by a road called the Sacred Way. The stone archway at the southern end of the Sacred Way, built in 1540, is 14 metres high and 19 metres wide, and is decorated with designs of clouds, waves and divine animals.

Beijing served as the national capital during the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. Unlike Ming and Qing rulers who all built massive tombs for themselves, Yuan rulers left no similar burial grounds.

Beijing nomads came from the Mongolian steppe. Mongols who established the Yuan Dynasty held the belief that they had come from: earth. they adopted a simple funeral method: the dead was placed inside a hollowed nanmu tree, which was then buried under grassland. Growth of grass soon left no traces of the tombs.

During the Ming Dynasty established by Han Chinese coming from an agricultural society in central China, people believed the existence of an after-world, where the dead “lived” a life similar to that of the living. Ming emperor, therefore, has grand mausoleums built for themselves. Qing rulers did likewise.

The stone archway at the southern end of the Sacred Way, built in 1540, is 14 metres high and 19 metres wide, and is decorated with designs of clouds, waves and divine animals. Well-proportioned and finely carved, the archway is one of the best preserved specimens of its kind in the Ming Dynasty. It is also the largest ancient stone archway in China.

The Stele Pavilion, not far from the Great Palace Gate, is actually a pavilion with a double-eaved roof. On the back of the stele is carved poetry written by Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty when he visited the Ming Tombs.

The Sacred Way inside the gate of the Ming Tomb is lined with 18 pairs of stone human figures and animals. These include four each of three types of officials: civil, military and meritorious officials, symbolizing those who assist the emperor in the administration of the state, plus four each of six types of animals: lion, griffin, camel, elephant, unicorn and horse.

Yongling Tomb, built in 1536, is the tomb for Emperor Shizong, Zhu Houcong (1507-1566). He ruled for 45 years.

Pyramids in China


Since many years already in the popular scientific community and in publications there are many announcements and contentions of gigantic pyramids in China. The puzzle around the look-up seems final after new discoveries. With the help of Google Earth, the objects are to be seen impressively. It can not be maintained longer, there might be no pyramids in China.!They have four sides and they are even square like the pyramids in Egypt and in Mexico. Its size can quite be matched with those of the Pharaons and of the Inca rulers.

Already in 1912 of the two travel agents Fred Meyer Schroder and Oscar Maman reported of a tremendous building that they had seen in China.“It was more eerie than if we had found them in the wilderness. Here they had been under the nose of the world, but unknown to the western countries… The big pyramid is about 1,000 feet high (other descriptions estimate 1,000 to 1,200 feet high) and roughly 1,500 feet at the base, which makes it twice as large as any pyramid in Egypt. The four faces of the structure are oriented with the compass points,” the two travellers reported.

During the second world war, the pilot of the American Air Force, James Gaussman, with his co-pilot, flow – through a technical defect at his machine -, for several times over a specific territory in China. What he later reported sounds completely unbelievable: “I banked to avoid a mountain and we came out over a level valley. Directly below was a gigantic white pyramid. It looked like something out of a fairy tale. It was encased in shimmering white. This could have been metal, or some sort of stone. It was pure white on all sides. The remarkable thing was the capstone, a huge piece of jewel-like material that could have been crystal. There was no way we could have landed, although we wanted to. We were struck by the immensity of the thing”, the pilots reported.

On March 28, 1947 the “New York Times” reported about that discovery. In an interview with the newspaper, the former far east director of the Transworld Airlines, Maurice Sheahan, says he has seen 40 miles southwest of Xian a gigantic pyramid.“I was impressed by its perfect pyramidal form and its great size,” says Sheahan.

Later, on March 30, 1947 the “New York Sunday Times” take over the report and published at the first the photo, which is actually made in 1945 by Gaussmann, and that was soon forgotten.

The photo of the “white pyramide” of 1947.

In 1978 the New Zealand researcher Bruce L. Cathie bothered itself of a clarification

of the puzzle. According to some correspondence with the Chinese embassy and the US air force he kept up the photo of 1947. He published the picture later in the first edition of his book “The Bridge to Infinity” of 1983. According to the photograph and the reports, the New Zealand researcher estimate that the pyramid must have at their basis a length of 450 meters (1500 feet) and a height of about 300 meters (1000 feet). It is a pyramid with four flat trapezoid shaped sides, a square plateau on the top and a square base, like the pyramids in Egypt and in Mexico. Such pyramids were up to now unknown to the experts in the western world and its existence was always denied: “There are no pyramids in China! Only pagodas – temple liked, peaked buildings”, so the opinion of the world experts.

I came to the “white pyramid” when I already read reports in specialized books before and then I saw the appropriate photograph in the book “The Face on Mars” of 1989 from the two Australian authors Brian Crowley and James J. Hurtak. Brian Crowley then sent a copy of the image in his book to me and then I passed it to Peter Krassa – a Austrian book author and China researcher. Later I published it in my German book “Das Marsgesicht” (The Face on Mars) of 1995.

I have left indeed Peter Krassa the photograph, but I wanted to however make and therefore prove attentive, that there are in fact pyramids in China. At the German edition “Ancient Skies”, the journal of the “Ancient Astronaut Society”, no. 6, 1991, I published a short report. One did not want to however publish the photograph of 1947. Gene Phillips, the founders of the mentioned society, has refused a report from me in the American journal of the Society – with the reason, the photograph could be “something doctored”, somehow falsified. He considered the photograph for a forgery.

However, I was some extent amazed when I saw a German book in a bookshop in Hamburg, Germany – during a lecture trip – with the title “Die weisse Pyramide” (The white pyramid), written by Hartwig Hausdorf, he was until then completely unknown to me. The book appeared in 1994 and then I found out that Peter Krassa had made the photograph available to him – without my knowledge. However, Hartwig Hausdorf mentioned me in his book so the case is functional. Hartwig Hausdorf was very much strove anyway – and that was also my aim – for the thing and he has undertaken several China trips, around the report to go onto the basis. He found several pyramid mountains in China in fact and he has also published photographs from that. These were the first real evidence that there are pyramidal buildings in China exist. The “white pyramid” could constitute Hausdorf nonetheless not.

Bruce L. Cathie announces many details in its book “The bridge to Infinity” over pyramids in China and especially over the “white pyramid” – so too precise coordinate information. They should be had found north of the contemporary city Sian (Xi´an), by the foot of the river Wei-ho – exact at 34.26 degrees of northern width and 108.52 degrees of eastern length. This data were for me very helpful when I searched in September 2006, with “Google Earth” over China after the pyramids. This program was in the last years set up extended from Google into the Internet and one can recognize phantastic details of the Earth’s surface, by means of satellite consumption – as e.g. too the mysterious lines in the plain of Nazca. The solution is not in all fields optimally, nevertheless mostly quite well.

According to some trouble I then kept up after the coordinate information of Bruce L. Cathie two pyramids. As result, I found further, more than twenty and bigger pyramids. They are square earth-pillars, constructed by Chinese craftsmen a long time ago very obviously. The professional world has therefore improper. There are indeed pyramids in China! Google Earth confirmed that again. The biggest one in this area is on 34.23 degrees North and 108.42 degrees East. The opinions diverge via the age of the pyramids. Some speak of 2500 to 3500 years. The legendary “Emperor of the prehistoric time” should at that time have been there.

The pyramids are in the province Shaanxi, north of the city Sian (Xi´an). On the satellite photographs of Google Earth, no “white pyramid” is to be recognized. Under the coordinates 34.26 degrees of Nord and 108.52 degrees East, two pyramids are visible, but however they are not identical to the photo from 1947. The pyramid lying a little southwest, in my opinion, comes onto 34.22 Nord most of all and 108.41 East, north of the small city Hsien-yang into consideration. An arrangement shows similar factors as on the photograph from 1947: A square plateau, grazes (excavations) on the sidewalls, similar ones walkways (streets) and in the background, a small settlement. But that pyramid is definitely not the “white Pyramide”.

In some Internet pages (Chris Maier) and in the homepage of wikipedia, the Maoling mausoleum is compared with the “white pyramid”. And that is in actual fact correct. Already on former satellite images which were published in the homepage of earthquest.co.uk of November 2001, that is to be recognized. With Google Earth, this pyramid – although at present another with bad resolution – is it to be seen also. They lies west of the pyramids of Hsien-yang, close to the city Xianyang, on 30.20 degrees North and 108.34 degrees East.

The “white pyramid” needs not to be a tremendous mystic building. The pilots and the travel agents to see the Maoling mausoleum, with his size – according to the measurements via Google Earth – of about 222 to 217 meters on the ground and his height of about 46 meters, can quite have appeared below glistening sunlight glimmering and quite big. No other pyramid in this area is so big. Only the one on 34.23 North and 108.42 East, which has a size of 219 to 230 meters on the ground. The wellknown Shi Huang-ti Mausoleum, situated 50 kilometers East, has a size of 357 to 354 meters on the base and the whole complex has a size of 488 to 581 meters. But that grave mountain is actually a square mound and not a pyramid. Attainable is the area near Hsien-yang over the city Xi´an (Sian) obvious the airport that Hartwig Hausdorf with some traveling companions already used in 1994. They could for instance constitute seventeen pyramids within a radius of about three kilometers and they estimated its heights at sixty to seventy meters.