By Roderick Whitfield, Susan Whitfield, and Neville Agnew

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The Mogao grottoes in China, situated near the oasis town of Dunhuang on the fabled Silk Road, constitute one of the world's most significant sites of Buddhist art. In some five hundred caves carved into rock cliffs at the edge of the Gobi Desert are preserved 1,000 years of exquisite murals and sculpture. Mogao, founded by Buddhist monks as an isolated monastery in the late fourth century, evolved into an artistic and spiritual mecca whose renown extended from the Chinese capital to the far western kingdoms of the Silk Road. Among its treasures are miles of stunning wall paintings, more than 2,000 statues, magnificent works on silk and paper, and thousands of ancient manuscripts, such as sutras, poems, and prayer sheets, which in 1900 were found sealed in one of the caves and then dispersed throughout the world.

Illustrated in color throughout, Cave Temples of Mogao combines lavish photographs of the caves and their art with the fascinating history of Mogao, Dunhuang, and the Silk Road to create a vivid portrait of this remarkable site. Chapters discuss the development of the cave temples, the iconography of the wall paintings, and the extraordinary story of the rare manuscripts—including the oldest dated printed book in existence, a 9th-century copy of the Diamond Sutra. Also discussed are the collaboration between the Getty Conservation Institute and Chinese authorities in conservation projects at Mogao and the ways in which the site can be visited today. The publication of this book coincides with the centenary of the discovery of the manuscripts in the Library Cave.

Roderick Whitfield is Percival David Professor of Chinese and East Asian Art, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and corresponding fellow of the Dunhuang Academy. Susan Whitfield is head of the International Dunhuang Project, British Library. Neville Agnew, who has worked on conservation projects at Mogao for 10 years, is principal project specialist at the Getty Conservation Institute, a research fellow of the Dunhuang Academy, and the editor of Conservation of Ancient Sites on the Silk Road.

Conservation and Cultural Heritage series
144 pages, 8 x 10 inches
144 color and 12 b/w illustrations, 1 map
ISBN 0-89236-585-4, paper, $29.95

To order this publication, go to the Getty Bookstore.