Another important discovery in Western Xia archaeology

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Another important discovery in Western Xia archaeology

Postby Lynn » Sep 23, 2005 6:05 am

Another important discovery in Western Xia archaeology

Experts with the Ningxia Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology have discovered a large amount of the Western Xia kingdom literature and sutra relics on the ground in front of five Western Xia rock caves with murals at Shanzuiguo, eastern part of the Helanshan Mountains when making an archaeological survey of the Western Xia Monastery at the Helanshan Mountains area recently, according to the overseas edition of People's Daily on September 23. Experts believed that it is another important discovery in the Western Xia archaeology, following the survey of the Western Xia Shuangta in Baisigou, the Helanshan Mountains in 1991, according to a Xinhua News Agency report on September 22 in Yinchuan, capital of northwestern China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

According to the institute's introduction, the cultural relics sites were discovered during a nationwide cultural relics survey in 1980s. With the approval of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, the institute started to survey the Western Xia Monastery this September. Experts confirmed that all of the five grottoes face southwest with two layers. There are three grottoes in the upper layer, nearly 70 meters away from the ditch bottom. The grottoes are cut into natural rock rifts or rock caves, inside which there are many murals, describing sutra-lecture, Sakyamuni's lecture and Bodhisattvas. The two man-carved caves with no murals in the lower layer are on cliffs 20 meters away from the ditch bottom.

Staffers with the institute discovered scattered sutra relics in front of the rock caves and cleaned up the ground inside and outside the caves. As a result, they found a great deal of the Western Xia literature relics in front of No 2 cave. They are mainly sutra literature relics with hundreds of pages. The literature relics are written in the languages of the Western Xia, Tibetan and Han. Most part of them is in the Western Xia language. The sutra is either printed or written in regular and cursive scripts with different binding and layout styles. Judging from the sealing, they are divided into different sutras. In addition, other relics, including silk products and coins, are also found there.

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