The former director of the Dunhuang Academy’s unwavering commitment to conservation over the decades is being rightly celebrated, Wang Kaihao reports.
Dunhuang Academy director, Zhao Shengliang, on why the iconic Buddhist art of the Mogao Caves plays an important global role in promoting Chinese culture.
As the climate in Northwest China gets warmer and wetter, the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang, Gansu Province have deteriorated with changes in temperature and humidity, challenging scientists seeking to protect the ancient remains.
Summer is the busiest season for staff at the Mogao Grottoes, as more than a third of the annual visitors to the UNESCO World Heritage site arrive during the vacation time.
Research laboratories that could simulate environmental conditions surrounding historical sites and relics have been put into operation, helping Chinese researchers in their cultural heritage protection endeavors.
Conservation of Buddhist artworks at the Mogao Caves is encouraging similar efforts at home and abroad…
Northwest China’s Gansu province saw robust growth and development in its tourism industry in the first half of 2019, according to local officials.
An exhibition of ancient musical instruments featured in the murals of UNESCO World Heritage site the Mogao Grottoes is being held in Lanzhou, Northwest China’s Gansu province. Let’s take a look at them.
The renowned Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang City, Northwest China’s Gansu Province, will launch new tour packages starting from April 1 to better meet the needs of tourists.
Located in the upper reaches of the famed Yellow River, northwest China’s Gansu province is well known as home of grottoes art, cultural heritage sites, magnificent natural scenery and also the key area of the ancient Silk Road route.
Source: Silk Road’s Gansu – Khmer Times
To judge by the art on the walls of China’s Mogao Caves, music was central to the lives of the Buddhists who painted them. Seeing their murals prompted Hong Kong musicians to form a group to bring alive the music of Dunhuang
The first time Felissa Chan Wan-in saw one of the most iconic paintings in the ancient Mogao Caves in Dunhuang, northwest China, the young musician was struck by an inexplicable feeling of transcendence. Tears started welling up in her eyes.
“I don’t know what exactly it was, but I just felt touched and wanted to cry,” says the 24-year-old pipa player. Also known as the Chinese lute, the ancient instrument features prominently in the cave paintings, created by Buddhist pilgrims between the fourth century and the 14th century.
Inspired by her experience, Chan and 10 fellow musicians who were on the same trip – all students or graduates of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts – recently formed an ensemble dedicated to playing music of China’s Tang dynasty (618-907).
For many people, Gansu province’s Dunhuang represents a mesmerizing focal point for the historical legends surrounding the Silk Road, the ancient Eurasian trade route.
Once a key spot along the route, this oasis in the desert is known by the world today for its remarkable Mogao Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s home to hundreds of grottoes full of Buddhist art wonders spanning a millennium.
Founded in 1944, the Dunhuang Research Academy, the research institute and administration center of the Mogao Grottoes, now wants to shake off its old image and join hands with a leading technology company to spread the spirit of Dunhuang more widely online.
On Dec 29 in Beijing, the Dunhuang Research Academy signed agreements with Chinese tech giant Tencent to plot the path of a new, digitally enabled Silk Road for future generations.
Lanlan Kuang’s research this summer is mixing the old with the new. And by “old,” we mean ancient.
Kuang is a UCF assistant professor of philosophy and one of a select group of international scholars with access to the Dunhuang Mogao Caves along the Silk Road in China. The nearly 500 caves are the largest and most complete treasure repository of Buddhist art, murals and more than 2,000 painted sculptures.
The researcher is fascinated by the dance, music, poetry, painting and ideas exchanged all along the Silk Road, the more than 2,000-year-old network of trade routes that stretched from eastern China to the Mediterranean Sea. So this summer, Kuang – who was acknowledged earlier this year as an expert on Silk Road arts by China’s Xinhua News Agency – is researching and digitally preserving the expressive arts along the route in northwest China.
Among China’s greatest art treasures are the Buddhist caves near Dunhuang, a Gobi Desert oasis on the ancient Silk Road that once linked China and the West.
Today, with the threat of mass tourism, an ambitious project to digitalize the caves is underway in a bid to preserve them. The UNESCO World Heritage site includes more than 700 caves, as well as 2,400 clay sculptures and 45,000 square meters of frescoes.
They have survived war, environmental damage, and antiquity hunters, but tourism is their biggest threat nowadays. To tackle the problem, the Dunhuang Research Academy has cooperated with many foreign institutions, including the US’ Getty Conservation Institute, in a bid to preserve and digitalize the historic artifacts.
“We have worked out a comprehensive and standard system to fix problems of the murals caused by aging” said Wang Xiaowei, Vice Director of the Protection Center of Dunhuang Research Academy.
If it had not been for Fan Jinshi and her team, the world cultural heritage site Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes in a remote Chinese desert might have long ago been destroyed by sand, weather or humans.
Born and raised in Shanghai, Fan has spent half a century fighting an uphill battle to preserve the ancient Buddhist murals at Dunhuang, in Northwest China’s Gansu Province.
“It was not that I favored my job over my family, I just could not bear the guilt of having our ancestors’ legacy destroyed,” she told Xinhua in Beijing while attending the just-concluded annual session of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
The 1,600-year-old Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes are a huge collection of Buddhist art – more than 2,000 Buddha figures and 45,000 square meters of paintings spread among 735 caves.
It is China’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Last fall, University Librarian Brian Schottlaender co-chaired an international meeting of librarians and other preservation specialists to advise the Dunhuang Research Academy on preserving thousands of still and moving images of Buddhist art in the Mogao Caves, in Dunhuang in the Gansu province in northwest China.
The Mogao Caves, which are located at a strategic point along the Silk Route, were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987. The caves comprise 492 temples, featuring some of the finest examples of Buddhist art, spanning some 1,000 years. Schottlaender and colleagues from the British Library, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Hermitage Museum, Harvard, UC Berkeley, University of Cincinnati, National Taiwan University, and other prominent institutions, were invited by the Dunhuang Research Academy to the two-day meeting, to begin consulting on a monumental project called Digital Dunhuang.