Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dunhuang Caves & The Silk Road (1000 AD)

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DUNHUANG......an oasis town situated in the northwest of the Chinese province of Gansu, is famous for its Mogao Caves (Mogaoku) or Caves of One Thousand Buddhas (Qianfodong).....The first cave was hewn in the 4th century C.E. and the last in the 14th, a period in which Dunhuang was under the control of, not only the Chinese, but also, among others, Tibetans, Uighurs, Tanguts, and Mongols.The discovery, in the late 1890s, of a sealed-up cave crammed with manuscripts, printed documents, and paintings on silk and paper attracted archeologists to Mogao. Thousands of the manuscripts stored in this cave, Cave 17 (the “library cave”) were obtained and carted away by the British-Hungarian explorer Marc Aurel Stein......the largest collections of Dunhuang manuscripts and printed documents, well over 40,000 in total, belong to the National Library of China and Beijing University Library, the British Library in London, Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris, the Institute for Oriental Studies in St. Petersburg, and Ryūkoku University Library in Kyoto. ".....http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/dunhuang-1

Chinese Manichean text fragment: “Compendium of the teachings of Mani, the Buddha of Light” (Stein manuscript S 3969 in the British Library)....G. Haloun and W. B. Henning, “The Compendium of the Doctrines and Styles of the Teachings of Mani, the Buddha of Light,” Asia Major 3, 1952, pp. 184-212.

"The Mogao Caves or Mogao Grottoes (Chinese: 莫高窟; pinyin: Mògāo kū), also known as the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas (Chinese: 千佛洞; pinyin: qiān fó dòng), form a system of 492 temples 25 km (16 mi) southeast of the center of Dunhuang, an oasis strategically located at a religious and cultural crossroads on the Silk Road, in Gansu province, China. The caves may also be known as the Dunhuang Caves.....During the Tang Dynasty, Dunhuang had became the main hub of commerce of the Silk Road and a major religious centre. A large number of the caves were constructed at Mogao during this era, including the two large statues of Buddha at the site......Large number of documents dating from 406 to 1002 CE were found in the cave, heaped up in closely packed layers of bundles of scrolls"....http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mogao_Caves

"Another theory posits that the items were from a monastic library and hidden due to threats from Muslims who were moving eastward. This theory proposes that that the monks of a nearby monastery heard about the fall of the Buddhist kingdom of Khotan to Karakhanids invaders from Kashgar in 1006 and the destruction it caused, so they sealed their library to avoid them being destroyed. The latest date recorded in the documents found in the cave is generally accepted to be 1002, and although other dates have been suggested, the cave was likely to have been sealed not long after that date."....http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mogao_Caves

"Dating from the 4th to the early years of the 11th century, when the cave was sealed (cf. Rong, 1999-2000. pp. 272 ff.), the manuscripts found in the library cave preserve a great variety of religious, philosophical, and literary texts and economic, legal, and official documents as well as biographies, calendars, vocabularies, and documents on history, topography, medicine, mathematics, customs, and art. The majority of the texts are in Chinese and Tibetan, but a large number of texts are in other languages, such as Sanskrit, Khotanese, Sogdian, Tangut, and Old Turkish. The contents of the cave confirm the historical preponderance of Buddhism in the region but also reveal the presence here of other religions, in particular, Daoism, Nestorian Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and Manicheism."......http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/dunhuang-1

"In his famous letter to Émile Senart in Paris, dated 26 March 1908 and written at the site, Paul Pelliot reported on his most important finds in the library cave. Among these were two Chinese manuscripts of great importance to the study of Manicheism: a fragment (29 cols.) of a synopsis of the principles of Manicheism and the organization of the Manichean church and a section (chapter one) of the Daoist polemic Laozi huahu jing “Scripture on Laozi’s Transformation of the Barbarians,” in which Mani is depicted as an incarnation of Laozi (Pelliot, 1908, pp. 515-18). "......http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/dunhuang-1

"At Dandan-Uiliq and Endere, Stein uncovered a number of paintings depicting both Buddhist and Hindu deities, including Ganesha, the popular elephant-headed Hindu god of wisdom. At the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas, Stein documented an ancient silk painting depicting King Vaisravana, Buddhist god of Wealth and patron god of Khotan, moving on a cloud across the ocean with his divine hosts. At left, a demon attempts to shoot an arrow at Garuda, half-man half-bird, who flies to the safety of heaven. In Buddhist Khotan temples, depictions of a local rat-headed divinity were discovered that, as initially described by Hsüan-tsang, represented the story of how rats helped Khotan’s king repel a Hun invasion by destroying their horse harnesses.".....http://www.athenapub.com/9khotan1.htm

"Earliest references on "gShen rab mi bo" have appeared in Dunhuang documents. ...Among the old Tibetan sources, I will first look at some Tibetan documents preserved in Dunhuang caves. Those documents were only accessible until the early 11th century due to the closure of the caves either in 1002 AD15 or in 1035 AD.16 The documents became available again after their discovery in the beginning of the twentieth century. I assume that some fragments of these texts, or oral traditions that correspond to the documents preserved in Dunhuang, were probably available elsewhere and Bonpos may have had access to them. To the best of my knowledge, such hypothetical fragments and traditions are no longer in circulation today, apart from what has been preserved in Dunhuang sources and what may be reflected in some of our Shenrab narratives. Based on this assumption, I shall try to determine how the name of Shenrab’s father relates to the names found in the Dunhuang documents....for the name of Shenrab’s father, we find two separate names in the Dunhuang documents: Mi bon/ lha’i bon/ rgya bon brim tang and Thod dkar.".........SHENRAB’S ANCESTORS AND FAMILY MEMBERS: WHERE DO THEY COME FROM?......Kalsang Norbu Gurung.......http://himalaya.socanth.cam.ac.uk/collections/journals/ret/pdf/ret_22_01.pdf

Imaeda, Yoshiro [et al.]. Tibetan Documents From Dunhuang. Old Tibetan Documents Online Monograph Series Vol. I. Tokyo: Research Institute for Language and Cultures of Asia and Africa, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, 2007.

Rong Xinjiang. “The Nature of the Dunhuang Library Cave and the Reasons for its Sealing.” Cahiers d’Extrême-Asie 11, 2000.

Stein, Rolf A. “The indigenous religion and the bon-po in the Dunhuang manuscripts.” In The History of Tibet, Volume I, Alex Mckay (ed.). Translated into English from French by Peter Richardus. London & New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2003.

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Email....okarresearch@gmail.com

John Hopkins.....Northern New Mexico….June 2013

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