The caves contain some of the finest examples of Buddhist art spanning a period of 1, years. The caves also have famous wall paintings. The number of temples eventually grew to more than a thousand. From the 4th until the 14th century, Buddhist monks at Dunhuang collected scriptures from the west while many pilgrims passing through the area painted murals inside the caves. The cave paintings and architecture served as aids to meditation , as visual representations of the quest for enlightenment, as mnemonic devices, and as teaching tools to inform illiterate Chinese about Buddhist beliefs and stories.
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