Qigexing Temple ruins along silk road reveal Buddhism’s past in China

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Since 2012, archaeologists have been working on a two-year project at the Qigexing Temple ruins in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous region. As an important crossroads on the northern silk road, the site is crucial to study how Buddhism developed in China.

Qigexing Temple ruins along silk road reveal Buddhism’s past in China
The Qigexing Buddhist Temple Ruins, southwest of the town of Yanqi, Yanqi Hui
Autonomous County, Xinjiang, China [Credit: Rolfmueller/WikiCommons]

After 1700 years of natural erosion and rampaged by war, this is what remains of the Qigexing Buddhist Temple, also know as the”Seven-Stars Buddhist Temple Ruins”.

Located in the South west of Yanqi, the temple cave compound is believed to have been a major religious center along the northern route of the Silk Road.

And archaeologists have been trying decipher its role in spreading Buddhism in China by working underneath the ruins.

Wu Weisheng, Director of Yanqi Cultural Relics Institutes, said, “The wall paintings found in this cave are very similar to the ones found in the Kizil Cave. They mainly feature Buddhist jakata. From the architecture and painting styles we hope to see how Buddhism developed in China and how it influenced local cultures.”

Work conducted at the site in the past few decades has already proven to quite promising with some inspiring discoveries.

For example this script discovered in 1975 is the earliest playtext known in China.

Unfortunately, most of the cultural relics were looted by foreign explorers in the early 1900s.

The two-year long project at Qigexing Buddhist Temple Ruins will end in September and hopefully archaeologists will be able to reveal more to the public about this ancient temple.

Source: CCTV [January 13, 2014]

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