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On the cliffs of west Mutou Valley at the foot of Flaming Mountain, 45 kilometers away from Turpan stands Thousand-Buddha Cave. With the existing 57 caves (83 original ones) and murals’ area of more than 1,200 square meters in over 40 caves, it is regarded as the grotto with the most caves and the richest mural contents in Turpan.
Starting from the late Southern and Northern Dynasties, the cave lasted 7 centuries of Tang, Five Dynasties, Song and Yuan as the Buddhist center in Gaochang. With the movement of royal family to Yongchang, Gansu Province at the end of the 13 century and the introduction of Islam, Buddhism in Turpan began to decline in popularity, so did the Thousand-Buddha Cave. What’s worse, most of the caves were destroyed during the ensuing religious clashes and foreign explorers’ robbery at the beginning of the 20 century.
Despite of all these severe destruction, the cave, with the delicate Buddha seat and the bright color of the murals, still serves as a grand-scale cultural and artistic treasure.