Mogao Caves

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An original oil painting created by His Excellency Hadrian Mâr Élijah Bar Israël, from a famous photograph showing the front door of the "Library Cave" where many Nazarani manuscripts and icons were found. So far only two copies of this oil painting have been printed using an oil-on-canvas printer.


The Mògāo Caves (Chinese: 莫高窟) are located approximately 25 km (16 mi) south east of the Dùnhuáng (Chinese: 燉煌) oasis in the Gānsù (Chinese: 甘肅) province of north western China. Every emperor between 366-1368 A.D. built monuments to the religious life of the Chinese people in the Mògāo valley by carving chambers into the mountains surrounding it. In all there are 492 decorated rooms. These were meant as a testament to the religious culture of the entire Chinese nation.

Several rooms have been found in the elaborate system, which have ancient Nazarani icons showing the saints and other characters from the Bible, dating from the T'ang (Chinese: 唐朝) and later Sòng (Chinese: 宋朝) dynasties. A tremendous "Library Cave" was even discovered nearby, where many hundreds of Nazarani documents were stored among the almost 50,000 hemp and silk manuscripts that were kept there when the cave was sealed in the 11th Century A.D. This is not even the most significant find of Nazarani art and texts in China, but merely one among many which testify to the greatness of the Nazarani missionary enterprise in the first millennium A.D.