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Editor's Book Pick

CAVE TEMPLES OF MOGAO:
ART AND HISTORY ON THE SILK ROAD
Roderick Whitfield
Susan Whitfield
Neville Agnew
Photographed by
Louis Conner and Wu Jian

Getty Trust Publications
Art/Archaeology

Cave Temples of Mogao

   The Mogao Caves near Duanhuang are primarily known as the repository of thousands of important Chinese texts including Buddhist sutras, Taoist manuals, Confucian studies and poetry (some of which can be read in CROSSING THE YELLOW RIVER.) The oasis town of Duanhuang at the mouth of the Gobi Desert on the ancient Silk Road received these valuable documents for over a millennium. But the unique and fascinating artistic heritage of the Mogao Caves is still virtually unknown to the educated reader. The more than 500 caves abound in treasures of religious and mythological art of astounding beauty. The wall paintings and sculptures of the cave temples represent a commentary on the changing forms and influences in Chinese art, here distilled, refined and preserved in the isolation of remote northwestern China.

Cave Temples of Mogao

 



 

Cave Temples of Mogao

   The recent destruction of the colossal Buddha statues and other representational pieces by the Taliban Militia in Afghanistan makes one appreciate all the more the continued existence of these important works. Until now, no general account of the Mogao cave art has been published, mainly because the wall paintings and sculptures have been until recently extremely inaccessible. Now, thanks to the Getty Conservation Institute and the Duanhuang Academy we are able to glimpse these remarkable art works. Some of the old plutocrat's money has indeed been put to good use.

Cave Temples of Mogao


   In addition to the wonderfully reproduced pictorial record, our team of authors provide a lucid account of the art of the region and set the development of Chinese art forms and their styles against the changing historical and cultural scene to the delight of armchair travelers and art aficionados alike. This is a handsome book that reveals an epoch of Chinese painting and sculpture in its entire sequestered splendor.

Richard Modiano




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