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Wedding scene

(Please click for enlarged image)

North wall of Mogao Cave 445
High Tang dynasty
Copy by Li Qiqiong

This painting is a copy of the wedding scene depicted on the lower left of the mural illustrating the Maitreyavyākaraṇa Sūtra (Sūtra of the prophecy of Maitreya's rebirth on earth) in Cave 445. It is said in this sūtra that women in the Maitreya Paradise get married at age 500. This wedding scene is meant to illustrate this.

Depicted in the painting is a wedding party taking place in an outdoor open space enclosed by screens and tents. Many guests are sitting inside the venue watching attentively a man dancing to the music played by five musicians. The bridegroom and the bride are performing the rite of marriage. The bridegroom is depicted as kneeling down while the bride escorted by bridemaids is standing, reflecting the wedding practice of the time, which required only the bridegroom to kneel down when performing marriage rite. Although the wedding scene in the text is concluded in only ten words, the painter has augmented it by incorporating vivid details of contemporary wedding scenes such as feasting, wedding ceremony and performance of music and dance. This is one of the best depicted wedding scenes among Dunhuang murals.