Background

The Dunhuang Grottoes (including the Mogao Grottoes), also known as the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas, are treasures of Chinese Buddhist art and culture which have been mentioned in historical sources going back over 1,700 years. These numerous and elaborate rock-cut architectural creations, painted statues, and murals stood in the desert through the rise and fall of dynasty after dynasty. They are a distillation of our ancestors’ passion and wisdom as they witnessed the evolution of human civilization, and it is now our enduring duty to recognize this precious heritage, to protect them and show off their brilliance.

Since the twentieth century, academics from the East and West have done extensive research into the Dunhuang Grottoes and accumulated vast amount of historical, ideological, cultural and artistic data. Today, digital technology has made it possible that an entirely new way to experience these ancient relics. If used appropriately, this technique may also lead to the development of a brand new perspective in the study of the Dunhuang Grottoes.

In 2011, we officially initiated the Applying Digital Technology to Dunhuang Art research project, sponsored by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange. The project was jointly run by Academia Sinica and National Taiwan University, with the assistance of the Dunhuang Research Academy. Our goal is to use digital technology to create a way to virtually experience the precious Dunhuang Grottoes. By digitally restoring these caves, which are subject to ongoing deterioration, we also hope to create an entirely new way to tour the Dunhuang Grottoes.