Silk Road Splendor - Dunhuang Caves Art Exhibition

The largest and most spectacular Dunhuang exhibition in Taiwan

By Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

Attributed to Dunhuang Academy

Zhang Qian's Expedition to Central Asia (Early Tang dynasty) by Dunhuang AcademyFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

A Long Ride on the Silk Road
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Unit 1: A Long Ride on the Silk Road

Zhang Qian expedited Central Asia and created a trade route that connected China and the West.  The route, named the "Silk Road" in the 19th century, started from Chang'an and passed through the Hexi Corridor and Dunhuang, reaching Central Asia, India, West Asia, and Europe.

Central Asian Caravans (Sui dynasty) by Lou Jie ReplicatedFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

Crossroads for Cultural Exchange
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Crossroads for Cultural Exchange

The Silk Road was not just used for trade, but also constituted a crossroads for cultural exchanges between ancient China and the West. 

UNESCO World Heritage: Xuanquanzhi Site by Dunhuang AcademyFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

UNESCO World Heritage: Xuanquanzhi

The Xuanquanzhi Site, established by the Han dynasty in the Hexi Corridor from the 2nd century BCE to the 2nd century CE, holds significant historical importance. Over 70,000 cultural relics were discovered in the 1990s.

Permits to Customs Clearance of the Han Dynasty, Collection of the Dunhuang Museum, Han dynasty, From the collection of: Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum
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Dunhuang Inscription, Collection of the Dunhuang Museum, Han dynasty, From the collection of: Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum
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"Western Regions Protectorate Seal”, a Han Dynasty small square plate with the inscription, Collection of the Dunhuang Museum, Han dynasty, From the collection of: Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum
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Three Documents Consisting of "Permits to Customs Clearance of the Han Dynasty", One of the Earliest Findings of the Word "Dunhuang", as well as a Sentence Saying "Western Regions Protectorate Seal" (Context Unclear)

Mogao Grottoes by Dunhuang AcademyFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

Thousand Year Construction
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Unit 2: Thousand Year Construction

The first of the Dunhuang Caves was carved out in 366 CE. A Buddhist monk called Yuezun was traveling past Dunhuang and was struck with a vision of images of a thousand Buddhas bathing in golden light, prompting him to carve out the first cave at Mogao.

Great Buddha Caves by Dunhuang AcademyFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

The Origins
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The Origins

A monk named Faliang hewed out another cave next to the one carved by Yuezun. Since then, the caves grew in number. The earliest extant cave was carved during the Northern Liang period.

The Mogao Cave Buddha Niche Stele (Tang dynasty) by Dunhuang AcademyFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

Mogao Cave Buddha Niche Stele

The stele records that in the year 366, Monk Yuezun initiated the construction of the cave, followed by figures like Monk Faliang, the Duke of Dongyang, and the Duke of Jianping, resulting in over a thousand niches being built by the time of the 8th century.

Sutra Illustration of Western Pure Land (High Tang dynasty) by Mogao Cave 217Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

Radiant Buddha's Palace
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Unit 3: Radiant Buddha's Palace

The art form presented in Dunhuang's Mogao Caves incorporates foreign art to create a distinct Chinese-Buddhist style, combining three-dimensional architecture, sculptures, and murals.

Six-Syllable Mantra Stele (Yuan dynasty) by Dunhuang AcademyFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

Six-Syllable Mantra Stele

Dated to year 1348, this stele features inscriptions of the Six-Syllable Mantra in six different scripts: Chinese, Sanskrit, Uighur, Tibetan, Tangut, and Phags-pa. Surrounding the Six-Syllable Mantra are inscriptions naming 95 benefactors, with a notable presence of Mongolians. 

Sutra Illustration of the Eastern Pure Lan (Early Tang dynasty) by Mogao Cave 220Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

A Millennium of Social Life
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A Millennium of Social Life

Depicting a millennium of social life in Ancient China, the Mogao Caves are the most significant, ancient, well-preserved, and artistically exquisite Buddhist treasure in the world, with the art ranging from 400 to 1400 CE.

Mogao Cave 45 (High Tang dynasty) by unknownFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

Mogao Cave 45
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Mogao Cave 45

High Tang dynasty

Mogao Cave 432 Central Pillar (Upper Half: Western Wei Dynasty, Lower Half: Northern Song Dynasty) by unknownFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

Central Pillar of Mogao Cave 432
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Mogao Cave 432 - Central Pillar

Central Pillar, Mogao Cave 432, Upper Half: Western Wei Dynasty, Lower Half: Northern Song Dynasty

Mural in Mogao Cave 3, From the collection of: Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum
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Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, Loretta Huishan Yang, 2011, From the collection of: Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum
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The Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva image (right) in the Buddha Museum's Avalokitesvara Shrine was sculpted based on the mural in Mogao Cave 3 (left).

Buddha in Meditation, Du Yongwei (sculptor), Northern Wei dynasty., From the collection of: Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum
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Bodhisattva Holding a Flower, Northern Wei dynasty, From the collection of: Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum
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Two Statues Displaying Buddha (left) and a Bodhisattva (right)

Vessel in the Vault (Northern Song dynasty) by Mogao Cave 55Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

Mundane Human Behavior
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Unit 4: Mundane Human Behavior

Although the cave's  images are illustrating Buddhist doctrines, they are largely drawn from contemporary life and often portray buildings, social life, work and labor, production tools, and military life.

Dance of Worshiping the Stupa (High Tang dynasty) by Mogao Cave 23Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

A Precious Database
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A Precious Database

The illustrations found in the caves provide a precious cultural database of numerous images demonstrating different aspects of life and different cultural elements.

Mount Wutai (Five Dynasties Period) by Mogao Cave 61Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

Mount Wutai

Mogao Cave 61, Five Dynasties Period

Lady Governor Worships Buddha (High Tang dynasty) by Duan Wen Jie replicatedFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

Lady Governor Worships Buddha

This artwork is a portrait of a patron painted on the southern wall of the corridor in Cave 130 of the Mogao Grottoes. The figures in the painting are arranged in accordance with their ages and social status, depicting the Lady Governor, her two daughters, and nine maids dressed

Casting Nets to Catch Fish, Mogao Cave 296, Northern Zhou dynasty, From the collection of: Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum
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Playing Chess, Mogao Cave 454, Song dynasty, From the collection of: Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum
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Playing the Zither Under a Tree, Mogao Cave 85, Late Tang dynasty, From the collection of: Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum
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Excerpts From Everyday Life Between 400 and 1400 CE

Uṣṇīṣa Vijaya Dhāraṇī Sūtra Illustration (Mid-Tang dynasty) by Fan Xinggang ReplicatedFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

Earth Shattering Discovery
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Unit 5: Earth-Shattering Discovery

On May 26, 1900, the Daoist Wang Yuanlu discovered the "Library Cave" at the Mogao Grottoes. He found over 50,000 historical texts, silk paintings, embroidered items, and more.

Bodhisattva Bhrikuti Avalokiteshvara with Silk Thread (Northern Song dynasty) by Dunhuang AcademyFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

An Important Archeological Find
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An Important Archeological Find

The discovery of the Library Cave is one of the world’s most significant archaeological finds of the 20th century. It is a momentous event in the history of culture and art, and is often regarded as one of the four major discoveries of ancient documents in the 20th century.

Monk Traveling with a Tiger (Tang dynasty) by unknownFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

Monk Traveling with a Tiger

This painting portrays an erudite monk who has returned from India, carrying a bag filled with sacred scriptures and accompanied by a tiger. The spread of Buddhism from India to China was made possible by the tireless efforts of numerous dedicated monks.

Mahaparinirvana Sutra: Part Six, Dunhuang Academy, Northern Dynasties, From the collection of: Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum
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The Mahāyāna Amitayurdhyana Sutra, Dunhuang Academy, Five Dynasties Period, From the collection of: Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum
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Two Sutras Discovered in The Library Cave, Reading Part Six of the Mahaparinirvana Sutra (left) and The Mahāyāna Amitayurdhyana Sutra (right)

Dragon King Making Offerings to the Buddha (Five Dynasties period) by Shi Weixiang and Huo XiliangFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

Year of the Dragon Special
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Year of the Dragon Special - Dragons in Dunhuang Murals

The image of the dragon is one of the most common subjects in the history of Chinese art, and it is also a prevalent theme in the paintings and sculptures found in the Dunhuang Caves.

Dragon Soring Auspiciousness, unknown, Northern Wei dynasty, From the collection of: Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum
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Dragon in the Doorway, unknown, Early Tang dynasty, From the collection of: Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum
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The concept of the dragon holds a special and significant place in the Chinese nation, representing an essential aspect of the Chinese spirit and culture. Dunhuang art is a form of Buddhist art that has its origins in India. Therefore, studying the dragon imagery in the Dunhuang Mogao Caves, especially the examination of dragon images in the early caves, is profoundly beneficial for further understanding the relationship between Buddhist art and Chinese culture.

These and many more artworks will be displayed at the Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum from     
Dec 16, 2023 to July 21, 2024

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