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Mogao Cave 23 (High Tang 705-781AD)
Author: Published:2014.3.11 Views:

This cave has a truncated pyramidal ceiling with a lotus motif in the zaojing (square inset ceiling).

The murals on the walls mainly depict the narrative scenes relating to the Lotus Sutra. The interpretation of the philosophy in the Buddhist sutra is presented very skillfully in the paintings in this cave.

Figure 1: Farmers working in heavy rain and children building stupa, north wall

Surrounding the central scene are different chapters of the sutra. One of them is the famous scene “The Farmers Working in Heavy Rain” (Figure 1), which depicts the Parable of the Herbal Medicine Chapter. The sky is cloudy and it is raining hard. One farmer is whipping the cow to plough as the other one is carrying the harvest on his shoulders. The cow was painted using the yun-ran technique, which was in vogue at this time. Below the cow, two farmers (perhaps father and son) are enjoying a meal delivered by a woman who watches them eat. It is a vivid depiction of village life at that time.

At the lower-left corner, children are building a stupa with sand while p