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A Reconstiution of Statues and Wall-painting in Kumtura Caves 15-17
Liu Tao, Luo Shi Ping
Central Academy of Fine Arts
Caves 15, 16, and 17 of the Kumutura Grottoes in Xinjiang Province constitute a group of three central pillar caves, which are close to the ground and located in the middle of the southern district in the Kuqun area. The three caves share a common central antechamber; the layout of this group is similar to the composition of the Chinese character “品”. Cave 16 is located at the back of the antechamber, while Cave 15 is in the south and Cave 17 in the north. The group forms the only example among the Kucha grottoes of three central pillared caves in the layout of the character “品” All the statues in the three caves have been destroyed, while the wall-paintings were cut off and transported overseas at the beginning of 20th century. After examining the collections from the Museum of Asian Art in Berlin, the author has classified the wall paintings into the Tang style.
This academic paper investigates the wall painting contents of caves 15-17 by locating the original position of the wall-paintings in the caves, based on information and photos from the German and French Expeditions of the early 20th century, provided by the Museum of Asian Art in Berlin. The author will analyse the relationship between the statues and the wall-paintings, and speculate on the identity of the statutes and the beliefs reflected by the statues and wall-paintings through a comparison with the so-called “Chang’an Paradigm”. Finally, the author will conclude that the three caves were built in the first half of the eighth century. The three grottoes were built during the Wuzhou period to expel Tubo and set up the Anxi frontier command.
Key Words: Three Caves; Wall-painting; Statues; Reconsitution