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Frescoes from Dunhuang

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Dunhuang, is a city in northwestern China, a famous oasis stop on the ancient trade route between China and Rome known as the Silk Road. The city is located in western Gansu province in the Hexi corridor, an arid region where humans have been creating oases since the 1st century bc. Agricultural production around Dunhuang consists of cotton, wheat, millet, and melons. 

Dunhuang is best known for nearby caves that contain Buddhist frescoes, ritual objects, and documents dating from the 4th to the 12th century ad. These may be the best-preserved examples of Buddhist frescoes in China. After having been sealed for nearly 800 years, the artifacts were discovered in the early 20th century by a Daoist (Taoist) monk named Wang Yuanlu. The first Westerner to visit the site was British archaeologist Sir Aurel Stein in 1907. Subsequently, the site was visited by numerous foreign archaeologists, many of whom removed large numbers of scrolls and paintings. Today the caves have been preserved as a research site and tourist attraction, and Dunhuang is a standard stop for both domestic and international tourists tracing the ancient Silk Road. 

China 1987. Dunhuang Cave Murals. Stamp #1. China 1987. Dunhuang Cave Murals. Souvenir sheet. China 1987. Dunhuang Cave Murals. Stamp #3.
China 1987. Dunhuang Cave Murals. Stamp #2. China 1987. Dunhuang Cave Murals. Stamp #4.
China 1988. Dunhuang Cave Murals. Stamp #1. China 1988. Dunhuang Cave Murals. Stamp #2. China 1988. Dunhuang Cave Murals. Stamp #3. China 1988. Dunhuang Cave Murals. Stamp #4.
China 1990. Dunhuang Cave Murals. Stamp #1. China 1990. Dunhuang Cave Murals. Stamp #2. China 1990. Dunhuang Cave Murals. Stamp #3. China 1990. Dunhuang Cave Murals. Stamp #4.
China 1992. Dunhuang Cave Murals. Stamp #1. China 1992. Dunhuang Cave Murals. Souvenir Sheet. China 1992. Dunhuang Cave Murals. Stamp #2.
China 1992. Dunhuang Cave Murals. Stamp #3. China 1992. Dunhuang Cave Murals. Stamp #4.
China 1994. Dunhuang Cave Murals. Stamp #1. China 1994. Dunhuang Cave Murals. Stamp #2. China 1994. Dunhuang Cave Murals. Stamp #3. China 1994. Dunhuang Cave Murals. Stamp #4.
China 1996. Dunhuang Cave Murals. Souvenir sheet. China 1996. Dunhuang Cave Murals. Stamp #1. China 1996. Dunhuang Cave Murals. Stamp #4.
China 1996. Dunhuang Cave Murals. Stamp #3. China 1996. Dunhuang Cave Murals. Stamp #2.

From the beginning of the medieval period in the 3rd century AD until the 7th century, China was not only divided into warring states but suffered invasions by Tatar tribes as well.  Nevertheless, these centuries in China were by no means as barren of literary production as the corresponding period in the history of western Europe known as the Dark Ages.  The spread of Buddhism from India, the invention of printing, and the flowering of poetry and prose illuminated the entire period and made it one of the most brilliant in Chinese literary history. 

In 1987 a Sino-Japanese joint production of a commercial feature film entitled The Silk Road resulted in the construction of a complete replica of a Song dynasty (960-1279) town just outside of Dunhuang. This movie set has become a tourist attraction. Tourists are also attracted to Dunhuang’s spectacular sand dunes. Dunhuang was first mentioned in Chinese texts during the Han dynasty (206 bc-ad 220). 

In 1987 the Dunhuang Cave Murals were declared World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. 

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