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Identification of the Images in the Tianwangtang Hall at the Mogao Grottoes

RUAN Li;  
This study looks at the murals on the dome roof of the Tianwangtang Hall and suggests that they are painted according to the Māyājāla-mahātrantra-mahāyanagambhiranaya-guhyaparasi-sutra,translated by Dharmabhadra from its Sanskrit version,Mayajala-mahatantraraja,and the four walls represent the Garbha-Vairocana surrounded by Eight Bodhisattvas and four Heavenly Kings.Introduction of these unique images was probably related to the record of Dharmabhadra and Danapala's travel to China from northern India.As historical documents record,"When they arrived at Dunhuang,local ruler Cao Yanlu insisted on having them stay there for a few months." Identification of these images in the Tianwangtang Hall will shed light on the studies of late Esoteric Buddhism at Dunhuang and even in the Central Plains during late Song dynasty.
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