Cave Temples of Mogao: Art and History on the Silk Road (Conservation & Cultural Heritage)

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9780892365852: Cave Temples of Mogao: Art and History on the Silk Road (Conservation & Cultural Heritage)

The Mogao grottoes in China, situated near the oasis town of Dunhuang on the fabled Silk Road, constitute one of the world's most significant sites of Buddhist art. In some five hundred caves carved into rock cliffs at the edge of the Gobi desert are preserved one thousand years of exquisite murals and sculpture. Mogao, founded by Buddhist monks as an isolated monastery in the late fourth century, evolved into an artistic and spiritual center whose renown extended from the Chinese capital to the far western kingdoms of the Silk Road. Among its treasures are miles of stunning wall paintings, more than two thousand statues, magnificent works on silk and paper, and thousands of ancient manuscripts, such as sutras, poems, and prayer sheets, which in 1900 were found sealed in one of the caves and then dispersed to museums throughout the world.

Illustrated in color throughout, Cave Temples of Mogao combines lavish photographs of the caves and their art with the fascinating history of Mogao, Dunhuang, and the Silk Road to create a vivid portrait of this remarkable site. Chapters discuss the development of the cave temples, the iconography of the wall paintings, and the extraordinary story of the rare manuscripts, including the oldest printed book in existence, a ninth-century copy of the Diamond Sutra. The book also describes the long-term collaboration between the Getty Conservation Institute and Chinese authorities in conservation projects at Mogao as well as the caves and the museum that can be visited today. The publication of this book coincides with the centenary of the discovery of the manuscripts in the Library Cave.

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About the Author:


Roderick Whitfield is professor of Chinese and East Asian Art and head of the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art at the University of London. Susan Whitfield is head of the International Dunhuang Project at the British Library. Neville Agnew, who has worked on conservation projects at Mogao for ten years, is principal project specialist at the Getty Conservation Institute and editor of Conservation of Ancient Sites on the Silk Road.

From Library Journal:

For 1000 years, from 366 C.E. to 1357 C.E., Buddhists in the isolated desert oasis of Dunhuang (or Tun-huang) dug a series of caves and decorated them with a vibrant array of wall frescoes and sculptures. On the western frontier of the powerful Chinese empire, Dunhuang was an important trading post on the Silk Road, the route by which Buddhism moved from India into Tibet and China. Called in Chinese Mogaoku ("Peerless Caves"), these places of veneration have been preserved by the dry climate and the depopulation of the area after the collapse of the silk route. Little known to the West until the early 20th century, the beautiful frescoes and the immense store of manuscripts (including the earliest wood block-printed text) are now recognized as a world treasure representing the remaining fraction of ancient Buddhist art that has long disappeared from less remote parts of China. Intended as an introduction for the general reader, this volume does not stint on history or religious explanation, but it never descends into pedantry. The photographs are gorgeous and because they are well lit will probably exceed the quality of what visitors will see on restricted-light tours. Having whetted our appetite with informative text and enthralling photos, the next step, the bibliography, is too short. Nevertheless, this book is recommended as a vibrant tour of a world treasure.DDavid McClelland, Philadelphia
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Whitfield, Roderick; Whitfield, Susan; Agnew, Neville
Editore: J. Paul Getty Trust (2001)
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