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Director’s Message
Author: Published:2014.3.27 Views:

Fan Jinshi (Director)

Welcome to the Dunhuang Research Academy’s website!

Dunhuang, a small town in northwestern China, is an oasis amid the Gobi desert. It was a gateway to and from China on the ancient Silk Road which carried trade between China, western Asia and India from the 2nd century BC until the 14th century AD. Now it is world renown for its art treasures that are on display for the world to enjoy and scholars to research.

The most prominent site in Dunhuang, the Mogao Grottoes, is a quintessential world heritage site. It is a Buddhist grotto temple and is also a heritage art museum replete with murals, statues and architectural monuments. Other than a unique treasure house of art, it also records a millennium of cultural interchange via the Silk Road between China, India, Persian, Greco-Roman and Central Asia, which is far more significant than silk or other exotic merchandise.

The art treasures were created as a result of the transmission of Buddhism to China via the Silk Road. It was then spread throughout the Far East, gradually absorbing other influences on its way. Not only had the Chinese acquired a new religion, but more importantly, an entirely new style of art with characteristics integrated from different cultures was created. These achievements, the breadth of mind to embrace multiple doctrines and cultures, and the self-confidence to promote cultural development are characteristically strongly pursued by all receptive advanced societies.

Dunhuang Research Academy (DHRA) was first established in 1944 as the National Research Institute on Dunhuang Art, renamed the Research Institute on Cultural Relics of Dunhuang in 1950 and further broadened to the present DHRA in 1984. Today, we very proudly continue the important work begun by our predecessors, to conserve and to present the best of this rich art, and to provide a platform for the engagement of the exploration of multiple cultures through tours, symposia, lectures and so on. Our mantra is Preserve, Research and Promote. 

The relics in the grottoes are precious and irreplaceable. Our goal is to preserve them for as long as possible. In the past 60 plus years, we have completed many projects with outstanding results — the construction of the wind fence which substantially reduces damage due to sand; the invention of the material to reinforce the rock structure around the caves; a better understanding of the mechanism of mural deterioration. However, we know there is still much more to be done. One of the most important projects in progress is the digitization of the images of the relics. Digitized images will provide scholars with more convenient access to materials for their research on Dunhuang Studies, as well as a permanent record for future generations to enjoy. Multi-media presentations in the new Visitor Centre will enhance the visitors’ experience, and at the same time help maintain a balance between preservation and tourism.

We look forward to seeing you, and to sharing the wonderful adventures of the caves of Dunhuang.

FAN Jinshi, Director,
Dunhuang Research Academy