Cover Dunhuang's Mogao Caves (Photo: courtesy of Getty)

The famous Dunhuang Caves, known for housing the largest surviving collection of Buddhist sculptures and murals, have been digitally recreated to reveal the secrets of the Silk Road

Hong Kong Heritage Museum’s latest exhibition, Dunhuang: Enchanting Tales for Millennium, opens today. As well as showcasing reproduced murals and artefacts spanning 1,000 years of Buddhist art and replicas of silk paintings from Dunhuang’s famous Mogao Caves, also known as the Thousand Buddha Grottoes, the museum and Dunhuang Academy teams have recreated a cave from the nearby Yulin Caves using art-tech and multimedia displays for an immersive experience.

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Dunhuang was one of the first trading cities encountered by merchants travelling to China from the west along the Silk Road. Now a Unesco World Heritage Site, the 492 caves feature 45,000 sq m of murals and more than 2,000 painted sculptures, all serving as evidence of the cultural, intellectual, political and religious influences of and exchange between China and its trading partners.

The Yulin Caves are located some 100km east of the Mogao Caves. Cave 25 in particular, the re-creation of which appears in the exhibition, is considered home to the finest cave murals of the mid-Tang dynasty due to the blend of artistic styles of the high Tang times with Tibetan culture.

The Hong Kong exhibition also features digital versions of landscape scenes extracted from the murals to spotlight and expand on their aesthetics and details, giving viewers a better opportunity to examine them than in their original location, where they usually too high up the wall for close appreciation. Another highlight is the digital display of an illustration from the ancient writing The Sutra of the Profundity of Filial Love. The original is one of few surviving large-scale silk paintings dating back to the Song dynasty (991AD).

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