Home » Art » Dunhuang: Untold Tales, Untold Riches @Hong Kong Heritage Museum

Dunhuang: Untold Tales, Untold Riches @Hong Kong Heritage Museum

Exhibition period:  26/11/2014 to 16/3/2015

Dunhuang is an oasis town on the edge of the Gobi Desert in western China along the Great Silk Road.  It was a famous center of Buddhist worship in the middle-ages, with pilgrims travelling from faraway to visit its cave shrines, comprising of hundreds of lavishly decorated caverns carved into a cliff on the city’s outskirts.

It was rediscovered by accident by a monk in the late last century.

The Dunhuang Library is hailed as one of the great archaeological discoveries of the twentieth century, on par with Tutankhamun’s tomb and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Here are some pictures of a fantastic exhibition put together by the Hong Kong Heritage Museum and no doubt Dunhuang is in my bucket list!

However, I better hurry because it ecosystem is very fragile.  Buildup of humidity and carbon dioxide—from visitors’ breath—are  flaking and discoloring the delicate pigment-on-plaster wall paintings, making it very vulnerable to mass tourism.  With Dunhuang entering the digital age, who knows, it might be closed to mass tourism in the future and the only way I get to see it will be via digital media!

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The 15.6 meter recumbent Buddha, serene in death with anguished disciples and mourners, is an iconic image of Mogaoku. 


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Artefacts from Silk Road times as well as replicas from the Mogao Caves.

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Scrolls and Manuscripts:  The Diamond Sutra, a copy of a Chinese translation of one of the Buddha’s sermons, generally recognized as the oldest known example of a dated printed book.

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Education Booklet

Some additional resources:

A really good article from The New Yorker here

The International Dunhuang Project: The Silk Road Online is a massive international collaboration to make information and images of all manuscripts, paintings, textiles and artefacts from Dunhuang and archaeological sites of the Eastern Silk Road freely available on the Internet and to encourage their use through educational and research programmes.

Friends of Dunhuang

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