Travel: Cave Temples of Dunhuang to be recreated in Los Angeles

(From ABC News)

For a thousand years China’s Cave Temples of Dunhuang were a popular traveler’s rest stop, marketplace and religious shrine on the fabled Silk Road. Now they are coming to Los Angeles, both in spirit and reality.

Distinct from the Mogao Grottoes of Dunhuang which is famous for murals, the Bingling Temple Caves gets its fame from skilled stone carvings.

Distinct from the Mogao Grottoes of Dunhuang which is famous for murals, the Bingling Temple Caves gets its fame from skilled stone carvings.

In an exhibition curators say is unprecedented, three full-scale, hand-painted replica caves have been erected on The Getty Center museum’s hilltop campus overlooking LA.

Nearby, in an adjacent gallery, the museum has assembled more than 40 spectacularly preserved and priceless artifacts taken from one of the caves, and in still another gallery visitors can take a 3-D virtual reality tour of on an actual cave in China, this one filled with life-size sculptures of the Buddha and his entourage.

“We’re trying to help the public understand what this place is, where it is and why it’s important,” Tim Whalen, director of the Getty Conservation Institute, said during a recent tour of “Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on the Silk Road,” which opens Saturday.

“By any standard,” he added, “Dunhuang is one of the most important heritage places in the world.”

Indeed, along with the Great Wall and the Forbidden City, Dunhuang’s more than 450 Mogao Caves, as they are also known, were among the first Chinese sites recognized by the United Nations‘ World Heritage Center in the 1980s.

But tucked away on the edge of the Gobi Desert, more than 1,100 miles from Beijing, they are not the easiest place in China to get to today.

That wasn’t the case from the 4th to the 14th centuries, when the Silk Road was teeming with travelers during the millennium when the caves served as a key rest stop, marketplace and shrine. Read More



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