Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road

 

Cave 285, view of the interior, Western Wei dynasty (535–556 CE). Mogao caves, Dunhuang, China. Photo: Wu Jian. © Dunhuang Academy

Cave 285, view of the interior, Western Wei dynasty (535–556 CE). Mogao caves, Dunhuang, China. Photo: Wu Jian. © Dunhuang Academy

The portrait of Cao Yijin, ruler of Dunhuang, who rededicated Cave 85 during the Five Dynasties is painted on the south wall of the corridor. Photo: Francesca Piqué

The portrait of Cao Yijin, ruler of Dunhuang, who rededicated Cave 85 during the Five Dynasties is painted on the south wall of the corridor. Photo: Francesca Piqué

May 7–September 4, 2016, GETTY CENTER

Exhibition will feature rare objects found at the famous Mogao caves site, along
with full-scale replicas of three of Mogao’s most exquisite cave temples
Presenting Sponsor: The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation

Lead Corporate Sponsor: East West Bank
Lead Sponsor: The Henry Luce Foundation

May 7–September 4, 2016
At the Getty Center, Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – In May 2016 the Getty will introduce visitors to the spectacular
Mogao caves, an ancient Silk Road site dating from the 4th to 14th centuries. Visitors will explore the tremendous significance of the diverse art and artifacts from this UNESCO World Heritage site, and learn about the challenges faced in its preservation.

Replicas of three of the nearly 500 decorated Buddhist cave temples that survive
today will allow visitors to experience what it is like to visit the site.
Organized by the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI), the Getty Research Institute (GRI), the Dunhuang Academy, and the Dunhuang Foundation, Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road celebrates the over 25 years of collaboration between the GCI and the Dunhuang Academy to conserve and protect this World Heritage site.

“This exhibition is the product of years of hard work and cooperation between the Getty Conservation Institute and their partners in Dunhuang to conserve the
extraordinary legacy of the Mogao caves, arguably the most important and beautiful pictorial evidence of the transmission of Buddhism along the Silk Road,” says Jim Cuno, President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust.

With their exquisite wall paintings and sculptures, the Mogao caves bear witness to the intense religious, artistic, and cultural exchanges along the Silk Road, the trade route linking East and West. Three full-size cave replicas, hand painted by artists at the Dunhuang Academy, will be installed on the Getty Center’s plaza, allowing visitors to experience the cave temples for themselves and to learn about their conservation.

“The Dunhuang Academy is delighted to be partnering with the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Research Institute, and the Dunhuang Foundation in this major exhibition, the first comprehensive display in the United States on the ancient cave temples of Mogao,” says Wang Xudong, director of the Dunhuang Academy. “Since 1989 the Dunhuang Academy and the Getty Conservation Institute have worked together on the conservation and management of the site and in so doing have forged an enduring bond of friendship. Not only will the exhibition bring to the American public the artistic beauty of this World Heritage Site but it will serve also as a model for international collaborations.”

Diamond Sutra, 868 CE, ink on paper London, British Library, Or.8210/P.2. Copyright © The British Library Board

Diamond Sutra, 868 CE, ink on paper
London, British Library, Or.8210/P.2. Copyright © The British Library Board

The exhibition will continue in the GRI galleries, with art and objects from the site that reflect the diverse ideas, beliefs, and artistic styles found in the cave temples. The exhibition will include paintings on silk, textiles, drawings, and manuscripts on loan from the British Museum, the British Library, the Musée Guimet, and the Bibliothèque nationale of France—objects that have rarely, if
ever, traveled to the United States. Also on view will be rare books and maps from the GRI’s Special Collections.

Among the objects to be exhibited is the Diamond Sutra (a sacred Mahayana Buddhist text) that dates to the year 868. Coming to the Getty on a loan agreed in principle with the British Library, the Diamond Sutra is the world’s oldest dated complete printed book. It was found in Cave 17, also known as the Library Cave, where some 50,000 objects, sealed up for a millennium, were discovered in 1900.

The Getty will present a slate of public programs, performances, lectures and tours related to the exhibition. The Getty has also partnered with departments at the University of California, Los Angeles to offer a major, international scholarly symposium in May 2016. Details will be announced later this year.

An exhibition catalogue titled Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road will be published, and a revised edition of Cave Temples of Mogao: Art and History on the Silk Road will be released as well.

For more information about the exhibition, visit www.getty.edu/cavetemples

The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation is the Presenting Sponsor of the exhibition. “The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation is proud to be part of this unique presentation, which reflects our core
mission to expand knowledge of Buddhism and Chinese culture as well as facilitate mutual understanding between East and West,” says Ted Lipman, Chief Executive Officer of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation. “Through the dedicated efforts of an international team of academics, conservators and other specialists, The Getty has developed an unprecedented opportunity for
audiences outside China to experience the wonders of Dunhuang, which served as the meeting ground for great cultures and ideas for more than a millennium.”

Lead Corporate Sponsor for the exhibition is East West Bank. “East West Bank is pleased to support this extraordinary collaboration between the Getty and Dunhuang Academy to restore one of the world’s great cultural treasures,” says Dominic Ng, Chairman and CEO of East West Bank. “Now the public has the rare opportunity to see these stunning artworks from the Silk Road, including the famous Diamond Sutra, a relic of immense historical significance. We are proud to serve as the cultural and financial bridge between the East and West, a relationship that will continue to grow in importance for years to come.”

Lead Sponsor for the exhibition is The Henry Luce Foundation.

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