- In Gobi desert, there exist hundreds of caves, whose intricately painted walls and magnificent statues have described the journey of Buddhism.
Geography, and specifically the ancient Silk Road, had indeed played a foundational role
Dunhuang was a major point of intersection along the Silk Road, one of whose branch lines headed towards India.
- Dunhuang is a city in China’s northwestern Gansu Province, on the edge of the Gobi Desert. Once a frontier garrison on the Silk Road,
- It is known today for the Mogao Caves, a complex of 492 grottoes.
Movement of people and goods along the branch proved critical in channeling a masterly artistic fusion that is evident at Dunhuang’s magnificent Mogao caves.
Along the route, which passes through the other oasis settlements of Miran, Endere, Niya, Keriya and Khotan, Yarkand in China’s Xinjiang province has long been recognised for its key role in the permeation of Buddhist influence from India.
Credit to monks, scholars, travelers
- It was the monks, scholars and travelers frequenting the Silk Road, who brought the essential message of Buddha to China.
- it was the Graeco-Buddhist Gandhara School, known for depicting Buddha in human form, that finally reached China, heavily influencing the emergence of Serindian art, embodying a powerful Chinese artistic tradition as well.
Director of the Dunhuang Academy said:
- “India is the root of Buddhist culture here. That is why we are willing to establish a long term stable relationship [with India]. This is the starting stage and there is long way to go, but there is a huge potential,”
- He points out that once the ongoing process of digitising the artworks in Mogao caves is completed, the Chinese and the Indian sides should be ready to work together to hold joint exhibitions.
Culture as the unifying strand
- Dunhuang Academy stresses that academic visits should add another layer to this phased revival of cultural ties.
- Deputy Mayor of Dunhuang, points out to establish a sister-city relationship between Dunhuang and Aurangabad. He says that the arrangement is a statement of intent by the two countries to leverage culture as a major strand for building Sino-Indian ties.