Dun Huang Aesthetic Dance (2002)


1. Fa Hwa Sutra Story

(from cave 45, Mogao Grottoes)

The sculptures in the niche of Cave 45 are
masterpieces from Tang Dynasty. It is the
art treasure. On southern side there are
Anada, Bodhisattva and heavenly King.
On northern there are Dacabala-Kacyapa
Bodhisattva and heavenly King.

Buddha is sitting in the middle. Ananda
is young however Dacabala-Kacyapa is

They both become a strong comparison.
Bodhisattva are calm and easy and stand
elegant. Heavenly kings show their mighty
and stand with a tremendous momentum.

It could have been done
expert and particular
on the run

Though harried by the hour
and distraught

Harried by instinct
too and tinctured
in all our parts
by lusts for more

and set upon
from all four
corners of experience

in newness
that the world was fresh
in pasture still

and we in strength upon it

the first
in this field
of our own


2. Heaven Palace Music and Dance

(from cave 288, Mugao Grottoes)

During the earliest Dun Huang period
in one of Bei Liangs cave heaven palace
music and dance already appear. It last-
ed the entire dynasties in China. All
the dancers stand beside an arch-shape
pole & start to dance. This is the dance
and music for praising Buddha in west-
ern world.

When the dancers dance, they hold mus
-ical instruments in their hands. As
they play the musical instrument they
dance as well, both separately and to-

With thought and work
it could have been
that we became the type
but now this tiredness

Too weary now to see
on looking back

where we were out of step

The sets were right
the house the job the family
for support
and we were all the way on top

it seemed we managed
set the tone
and showed them

A good agenda
for our age
and wise

with appropriate philosophy
dignified riposte
and charm

A long sad time it was
slowly taking shape
under weather


3. Thousand Hands Avalokitecvara

(from cave 3, Mogao Grottoes)

Thousand Hands Avalokitecvara, the
full name is thousand hand thousand
eyes Avalokitecvara. She heard thous-
and hand sutra then she grew up thous-
and hands and thousand eyes. Because
she have thousand eyes, she can watch
out the suffering of people. Because she
have thousand hands, she can save all

The dance of thousand hands Avalo-
is composed of many persons. Through
the variation of dance and hand posture
present the mercy and love of Avalokit-
ecvara to all beings.

I no longer feel embarrassed

Over-all it worked
we had our children
ran the house
attended the lost
in their sanctity

Out of error
some good came
it’s said in the letters
and long-after visits
of comfort meant and received

It’s you and me I think of
and the kids

With both of us in business
tired and pressed
and never stopped

each and the other invariable
as day and night succeeded
to the inevitable

of age
and a time of review


4. Heavenly Angel Scarf Dance

(from cave 220, Mogao Grottoes)

Heavenly Angel Scarf dance is from
Mo Gao Cave Number 220 cave.
Heavenly Angel Scarf dace is made up
from the hu xuan wu of the Tang Dyn-
asty. It is a kind of quick spinning
dance. Originally the dancers were all
male, then some female dancers were

Heavenly Angel Scarf dance is a kind
enthusiastic dance. The dancers spin
clockwise suddenly then spin counter-
clock wise in a very fast speed. They
change different kind of dance steps and
swing their bodies up and down. The
faster rhythm of the music goes, the
faster the dancer dances.

We were quick
and wanted to please

People told us we were clever
but that was because
we didn’t ask for much
and were happy as we were
until the uncertainties

when those things
that had trod behind
all through the years
as offspring close and owning
came in to shelter
taking space

with questions we didn’t know
nor answers

but we kept ancestral
in the old house
spoke the old words
and slowed down
lest we do too much
or miss a step


5. Offering Bodhisattva

(from cave 328, Mogao Grottoes)

Offering Bodhisattva put the palm to-
gether kneel with single leg. Their app-
earances are very pious. It present the
skillful sculpture technique in Tang
Dynasty. Whatever hair, ornament or
skirts are very realisticall. Dancers try
to fathom the facial expression of offer-
ing bodhisattva. They express the inner
world of Bodhisattva with elegant and
pious motion.

There was our space

who’s and what is it
what do we do

We filled it with music and God

which made it will a need
to conform
a sort of obedience
round which we hung our lives
knowing and predictable

As others saw
wise in all good sense
admirably made
and subtle enough
as times shift

But we didn’t see the changes
nor change to them
until they took us
as they do by hymn and rite

Now you’re there too
part of it


6. Four Heavenly Kings

(from cave 331, Mogao Grottoes)

Four Heavenly Kings, also named four
guardian kings, represent favourable
weather, prosperous country, an abun-
dant harvest and peaceful world.

Eastern heavenly king is named protec-
ting-country. It means protecting coun-
try and people.

Western heavenly king is named wide-
eye. He always watches the world and
protects people.

Southern heavenly king is named en-
hancement. He is able to make people
enhance their kindness.

The northern heavenly king is named
broad - hearing. He can hear all the
sound from every direction. He holds a
treasure umbrella to conquer devils and
protect people’s fortune.

They have died in my arms

I looked in their eyes
and saw where they go
which is comfort

Though not to be said in words
That at any one time we are
none of us
sure where we are

Had we known
we would have been more alive
but we lived easy
protected to near the end
by Music and God

which always make
the height and depth
seem real

As they are
though in tact
and for reasons of ease
we prefer them to be figured


7. Sun & Moon Light Angels

(from cave 285, Mogao Grottoes)

No 285 cave is abundant with skill-
fully painted and colorful paintings. On
the top there are traditional Chinese
style paintings. However on the wall
there are all Buddhist paintings.

On the western wall there are many
angels paintings, for example sun angel
and moon angel. This dance is adapted
from the sun and moon angels on the
wall paintings. We design circle white
screen, special lighting and shadow style
dance. It shows the beautiful but imag-
inary and dreaming world.

You said
it would best work out
if our motives
and facts
were considered

That was a moderating thought
until in our middle years
we saw the backward force
discrete and great
whose order is its own
that bears no reference
to us in both our lives

We’ll plan for later years
you said
and we did
a pretty plan

Now I alone am left
to make consequence
and hold in my one hand
life after life
and life again
for two


8. Green Tara

(from cave 4, Yulin Grottoes)

Green Tara is the incarnation of Ava-
lokitecvara. She can save unlimited
amount of people very powerfully.
When the world gets worse, the ability
of green tara will become more power-
fully. There are each three green taras
on right and left side. Along with the
middle one, there are seven green taras
in the wall paintings. This is the repre-
sentative work in the Yu - Lin Cave.
This dance is designed according to the
painting. There are 7 dancers to pre-
sent the mercy and power of green taras

then there were the kids
We thought they were ours
in our power
to make
as one does an artefact

Touch here
touch there
add pare make straight
and fortify
as if we were to mix and bake

The strength
was for a jungle world
but we didn’t say that

We said we had the pattern
our goal
was fullness
in limb and mind
but they had their own

We missed
in liberality


9. Mandala

(from cave 4, Yulin Grottoes)

Vajra-dhatu mandala is drawn accord-
ing to the Vajradhatu sutra. There are
nine squares. In the middle is Vairo-
cana Buddha, the upper one is Amita-
bhana Buddha, the lower one is Ra tna
-samb - hava Buddha. Vajra - dhatu
means that the wisdom is like dimond
and cannot be destroied. Mandala mean
enlightenment. Vajra - dhatu mandala
represent the wisdom of Vairocana
Buddha. It is also called Wisdom man-

The pattern
how does it go —
round square
or is it mystic
seen at the altar shimmering

You put it in craft
and I on the page
a magic
we hoped
that would still the whirl
And make order for us

You went
and left me with belief —
Things always work out in the end
but not always

It’s a thread running through
and starts with faith:

is how we people space

Eternity’s Bach
because of the rhythm

© Leicester Kyle, November 2002

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