Dunhuang or Tunhwang (both: dōn-hwäng) [key], town, extreme NW Gansu prov., China. Crescent Lake, a noted tourist attraction surrounded by high sand dunes, is there. The Caves of the Thousand Buddhas (Mogao Caves) are at nearby Qianfodong. The town and its environs were long a gateway between central Asia and China, and the frescoes in the caves, painted from the 5th cent. to the 13th cent., show Indian, Greco-Roman, and Iranian influences. The caves, closed for centuries, were reopened in 1900. There Sir Aurel Stein, an English archaeologist, discovered a library of some 15,000 manuscripts, including the Diamond Sutra, reputed to be the first (A.D. 868) printed book. Only a few dozen of the hundreds of caves are open to tourists.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
More on Dunhuang from Fact Monster:
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Chinese and Mongolian Political Geography