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Dunhuang: Buddhist Art from the Silk Road
Dunhuang: Buddhist Art from the Silk Road

Dunhuang: Caves of the Singing Sands, Buddhist Art from the Silk Road

Text by Roderick Whitfield, photography by Seigo Otsuka

The Mogao cave temples near the town of Dunhuang, at the edge of the Gobi desert in northwest China, are filled with one of the most extensive and exquisite collections of Buddhist paintings and sculptures in the world. Every surface of the walls and ceilings is covered with painted clay stucco, some 45,000 square metres in all: graceful acrobats of the sky scatter flowers and garlands, while dancers and musicians celebrate the beauties of the Buddhist Pure Lands; row upon row of miniature images of the Buddha, subtly varied in colouring or dress, adorn virtually every cave, and give the site its popular name of the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas. The Dunhuang caves remain one of the most perfectly preserved of the world's great religious sanctuaries.

In this, the first publication of its kind, the magnificent Dunhuang murals can be viewed in superb colour plates, with a remarkable choice of views, to offer the reader a brilliantly illuminated view of the art of the caves. Forty of the best-preserved caves, from among the earliest to the latest, are recorded in unprecedented detail, supplemented by extensive commentaries.

This new work, revised and expanded from the original Japanese edition, is published in two volumes. Volume 1 features 400 colour plates of outstanding definition, while the essays to the plates, newly written for this edition in an accessible narrative form, are presented in Volume 2.

 



 




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