twenty-three lines of black text

Buddhist Text: Fragment from Tun Huang Cave Sanctuary, c. 600


Ink on paperexpand_more

Gift of Ruth and Bruce Daytonexpand_more  2003.98.1

Not on Viewexpand_more

This rare fragment from an unidentified sutra is written in a seventeen-character format typical of the majority of the Buddhist manuscripts found in the famous Mogao cave sanctuaries at Dunhuang which yielded thousands of early Buddhist writings. Dating to the Sui dynasty (581-618), the paper has a smooth surface, horizontal chain lines, and is dyed yellow with herb juice to prevent insect damage.

The exacting calligraphy is an early kai style executed with traces of li (clerical) script in the structure of each character. The writing is well-balanced and carefully structured with controlled brush strokes.

The use of the "taboo" characters shih and qi indicating the second (627-49) and third (650-83) emperors of the Tang dynasty, implies that the manuscript predates those rulers placing it around 600 CE.

Buddhist Text: Fragment from Tun Huang Cave Sanctuary
Accession Number
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

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twenty-three lines of black text