Stories Behind The Dunhuang Caves

INTRODUCTION

Dunhuang is a county-level city in China's northwestern Gansu Province. Located on the edge of the Gobi Desert, it was once a metropolis on the Silk Road, connecting trade between the East and West from the 2nd century BCE to the 18th century AD. Situated in an oasis, Dunhuang is also known for the Crescent Lake and the Mingsha Shan ("Singing-Sand Mountain"), which was named after the sound of the wind whipping the sand dunes. Dunhuang held a strategic position in history being also located at the crossroads of the ancient South Silk Road and the main route from India to Mongolia and southern Siberia via Lhasa. It controlled the entrance to the narrow Hexi Corridor, which led directly to the heart of the northern Chinese plains and the ancient capitals of Chang'an (today's Xi'an) and Luoyang

Dunhuang Map Mogao Grottoes.png

Location of Dunhuang in the Gansu Province of China. (Created using Google maps.)

敦煌在中国甘肃省的位置。(用谷歌地图制作。)

The Mogao Grottoes, one of the largest Dunhuang Caves, are the most valuable cultural discoveries of the 20th century. It is the largest surviving Buddhist art holy site and treasure house of the world. The Mogao Grottoes contain more than 700 caves, 45,000 square meters of murals, and 2,000 sculptures created between the 4th and the 14th centuries. The artworks witnessed the over one thousand years of dynastic and ethnic mixes and exchanges, and absorbed the historical, cultural, and economic life elements in them. Dunhuang materials touched upon many aspects of people’s activities along the Silk Road during that period of time. They open a fascinating window into the distant history and provide a close, realistic, and vivid view into the physical, artistic, and spiritual lives of various cultures. 

Mogao Cave.jpg

Mogao Grottoes. Courtesy Jue Se Dunhuang of the Dunhuang Academy. 莫高窟。图片来源:敦煌研究院觉色敦煌。

"Stories Behind The Dunhuang Caves" is the first among three Dunhuang exhibitions hosted by the Tateuchi East Asia Library at the University of Washington, in collaboration with the Dunhuang Academy of China and the Dunhuang Foundation in the U.S. This exhibit is to provide a glimpse of Dunhuang's history through six selected caves* at the Mogao Grottoes and the artworks within. Together, they exemplify the exchanges of ideas, thoughts, and religions of the East and the West during the thousand years along the Silk Road.

  1. Cave 254 (North Wei Dynasty 386-584 A.D.)
  2. Cave 285 (West Wei Dynasty 535-557 A.D.)
  3. Cave 220 (Early Tang Dynasty 618-904 A.D.)
  4. Cave 172 (High Tang Dynasty 618-904 A.D.)
  5. Cave 061 (Five Dynasties Period 907-979 A.D.)
  6. Cave 003 (Yuan Dynasty 1279-1368 A.D.)

  • Mogao Cave 254 Overview

    Mogao Cave 254 (Northern Wei Dynasty 386-584 A.D.): A Central Pillar Cave of Buddhist Stories.

    莫高第254号窟(北魏 公元386-584):中央塔柱窟里的佛教故事。

    Courtesy Digital Dunhuang of the Dunhuang Academy. 图片来源:敦煌研究院数字敦煌

  • Mogao Cave 285 Interior View Front

    Mogao Cave 285 (Western Wei Dynasty 535-557 A.D.): A Donor Cave of Deities.

    莫高第285号窟(西魏 公元535-557):供养人窟里的神佛。

    Courtesy Digital Dunhuang of the Dunhuang Academy. 图片来源:敦煌研究院数字敦煌

  • Mogao Cave 220 Overview

    Mogao Cave 220 (Tang Dynasty 618-907 A.D.): the Zhai Family cave of masterpieces.

    莫高第220号窟(唐朝 公元618-907):翟家窟里的艺术精品。

    Courtesy Digital Dunhuang of the Dunhuang Academy. 图片来源:敦煌研究院数字敦煌

  • Mogao Cave 172 Overview

    Mogao Cave 172 (Tang Dynasty 618-904 A.D.): Hall of the Amitayhurdyana Sutra.

    莫高第172号窟(盛唐,公元618-904年):观无量寿佛经窟。

    Courtesy Digital Dunhuang of the Dunhuang Academy. 图片来源:敦煌研究院数字敦煌

  • Mogao Cave 061 Interior

    Mogao Cave 061 (Five Dynasties 907-979 A.D.): The Magnificent Manjusri Hall.

    莫高第061号窟(五代,公元907-979年):瑰丽的文殊堂。

    Courtesy Digital Dunhuang of the Dunhuang Academy. 图片来源:敦煌研究院数字敦煌

  • Mogao Cave 003 Interior

    Mogao Cave 003 (Yuan Dynasty 1271-1368 A.D.): A Cave of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattvas.

    莫高第003号窟(元代 公元1271-1368年):千手千眼观音窟。

    Courtesy Digital Dunhuang of the Dunhuang Academy. 图片来源:敦煌研究院数字敦煌

展览介绍

敦煌位于中国西北的甘肃省,属县级城市。它坐落在戈壁大漠的边缘,在漫漫历史长河里,曾是著名的丝绸之路上一个繁华的大都市。从公元前2世纪开始,敦煌就连接东西方贸易,直到公元18世纪。敦煌是沙漠里的一片绿洲,边上有月牙泉鸣沙山。鸣沙山因风吹卷沙丘发出声响而得名。地处古丝绸之路南路和从印度经拉萨通往蒙古和南西伯利亚的主干道交汇处,敦煌自古就是战略重镇。它控制着狭窄的河西走廊的入口。穿过河西走廊可直达中国北部平原腹地及古都长安(今天的西安)和洛阳

敦煌石窟是20世纪最珍贵的文化发现,是现存世界上最大最丰富的佛教艺术圣地和宝库,以其精美绝伦的壁画和雕塑而闻名于世。敦煌莫高窟包含700多个洞窟,4万5千多平方米壁画,和2000多尊泥塑塑像,均创作于公元4世纪至14世纪之间。在其漫长的历史中,伴随着朝代的更迭、社会的变迁以及民族的交融,这些敦煌石窟见证并反映了丰富多彩的历史、文化和经济生活。敦煌素材涉及1000多年间丝路上人们活动的方方面面。打开了一扇进入遥远历史的迷人窗口,为我们提供了近距离观察千年来不同文化的物质、艺术和精神生活的真切生动的画面。

“敦煌石窟背后的历史和故事”线上展览是华盛顿大学馆内东亚图书馆和中国敦煌研究院、美国敦煌基金会联合合作敦煌项目三个预定展览的首个展出。展出的目的在于通过六个莫高窟*和内部的艺术精品来介绍敦煌背后的历史。这六个窟体现了当时丝绸之路上东西方文化、思想、和宗教的交流和融合,是介绍莫高窟和敦煌的起点。

  1. 莫高第254号窟,北魏, 公元386-584年
  2. 莫高第285号窟,西魏,公元535-557年
  3. 莫高第220号窟,唐(初唐) ,公元618-907年
  4. 莫高第172号窟,唐(盛唐),公元618-907年
  5. 莫高第061号窟,五代,公元907-979年
  6. 莫高第003号窟,元代, 公元1279-1368年
*The selected early three caves were based on Professor Anne Feng's webinar on the Buddhist Art in Dunhuang from 2020 hosted by the Dunhuang Foundation. Professor Feng is a historian of Chinese art specialize in Buddhist art in the Dunhuang caves. The later three caves were selected by the UW Dunhuang Project Team based on the representativeness of their corresponding historical periods.
早期的三个石窟根据敦煌基金会举办,波士顿大学Anne Feng教授的线上演讲“敦煌石窟中的佛教艺术”而选出。Anne Feng教授是研究中国艺术的历史学家,专研敦煌石窟中的佛教艺术。后期的三个石窟由华大项目组基于该洞窟的历史代表性而选出。
Introduction 展览介绍