Kumtura Caves

The Kumtura Thousand Buddha Caves (Chinese: ; pinyin: Kùmùtǔlǎ Qiānfódòng) (also Qumtura) is a Buddhist cave temple site in the Autonomous Region of Xinjiang, China. The site is located some 25 km west of Kucha, Kuqa County, on the ancient Silk Road.[1][2] 112 cave temples survive, dating from the fifth to the eleventh centuries. Damaged during the Islamic conquests and subsequently by occasional habitation after abandonment of the site, Kumtura was visited by a number of the early foreign expeditions to Chinese Central Asia, including the 1902 Ōtani expedition, Oldenburg, and Le Coq.[3][4][5][6] The last detached several wall paintings and took them back to Berlin (now at the Museum für Asiatische Kunst).[7]

Construction of the Dongfang Hong Hydroelectric Plant in the 1970s caused the water level of the Muzat River to rise and has increased the rate of decay of the wall paintings.[1] Long-term preservation measures under the auspices of UNESCO began in 1999 with extensive documentation and survey work and consolidation of the conglomerate rock from which the caves are excavated.[1][8] The site was among the first to be designated for protection in 1961 as a Major National Historical and Cultural Site.[9] In 2008 Kumtula Grottoes was submitted for future inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List as part of the Chinese Section of the Silk Road.[10]

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