Thursday, August 03, 2006

Seventh Century C.E. Tang Dynasty Buddhist Frescoes From Dandanwulike, Xingjiang Province Of China Restored By Chinese And Japanese Experts

Chinanews, Urumqi, Aug. 3 – "Some 30 frescoes, which were drawn in the Tang Dynasty some 1,400 years ago, have recently been restored and displayed their true features, thanks to the efforts made by some Chinese and Japanese experts. ...

Zhang Yuzhong, a researcher from the Xingjiang Cultural Relics and Archeological Research Institute, said that in order to repair these frescoes, experts from China and Japan had applied restoration methods used in France, Japan, and China. With a careful selection of materials, experts tried to restore the frescoes to their original conditions by using different methods such as fixing, solidifying, and revamping. These frescoes are now kept in the Xingjiang Cultural Relic and Archeology Research Institute.

Zhang first discovered the frescoes in October 2002, when he led a team of Chinese and Japanese experts to conduct research at the Dandanwulike Relic....

After making a comparison, experts found that the restored frescoes discovered in Xingjiang were different from those kept in the Indian Art Museum in Berlin, Germany, and those kept in the British Museum in regard to style, color and pattern. The contents of the frescoes indicated that they were drawn in the early Tang Dynasty, or in the late seventh century." "Chinese and Japanese experts restore frescoes in Xinjiang" August 3, 2006

One of the 30 small, newly restored 7th c. C.E. Tang era Buddhist frescoes from Dandanwulike, Xingjiang Province, China.

Photo credit: With thanks.


Mogoa Caves or Grottos

Local legend says that in C.E. [Common Era] 366 the Buddhist monk Lezun (樂尊) had a vision of a thousand Buddhas and convinced a wealthy Silk Road pilgrim to fund the first of the temples. The temples eventually grew to number more than a thousand. From the 4th until the 14th century, Buddhist monks at Dunhuang collected scriptures from the west, and many pilgrims passed through the area, painting murals inside the caves. The murals cover 450,000 square feet (42,000 m²). The caves were abandoned in the 14th century.

The Mogao Caves are the best known of the Chinese Buddhist grottos, and along with Longmen and Yungang are one of the three famous ancient sculptural sites of China.

Buddhist monks valued austerity in life, and they hoped that remote caves would aid their quest for enlightenment. The paintings served as aids to meditation, as visual representations of their quest for enlightenment, and as tools to inform illiterate Chinese about Buddhist beliefs and stories.

In the early 20th century, a Chinese Taoist named Wang Yuan-lu appointed himself guardian of some of these temples. Wang discovered an enormous hoard of manuscripts. Rumors of these manuscripts brought European explorers, who trekked across Central Asia to attempt to see and obtain these manuscripts. Wang embarked on an ambitious refurbishment of the temples, funded in part by soliciting donations from neighboring towns, and in part by donations from European explorers such as Sir Aurel Stein (who discovered the famous Diamond Sutra in one of the Mogao Caves) and Paul Pelliot who were interested in Wang's manuscripts.

Today, the site is an important tourist attraction and the subject of an ongoing archaeological project.

The Mogoa Caves at Dunhuang, at 42N, are at approximately the same latitude as the cities of Boston, Rome, and Barcelona.

The Mogao Caves or Grottos became one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1987.

Civilization and Its Discontents.

The travel of Zhang Qian to the West. Mogao caves, 618-712 C.E.

Silk Road robbers, Mogao Caves, 535-556 C.E.

Photos and text credit: Wikipedia. With thanks.


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