What is On

Dunhuang Mogao Cave art show brings immersive experience


The reproduction of the reclining Buddha from Mogao Cave 158.Photos by Cao Zhen

A painting reproduction.

Mysterious Dunhuang,” an immersive and informative exhibition featuring ancient Dunhuang Mogao cave art in Northwest China’s Gansu Province, is being held at OCT Harbor Exhibition Center.

In collaboration with the Dunhuang Academy, the exhibition organizer Blooming Investment set up seven life-sized Mogao caves with mural reproductions all over the walls and ceilings. Buddha statue reproductions and painting replicas are also on display inside the three-story exhibition center. Videos of Buddhist images and animation are projected on the ceilings of the third floor, giving viewers an immersive watching experience.

The construction of the Mogao Caves is generally believed to have begun sometime in the fourth century. During the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Dunhuang became the main hub of commerce along the Silk Road and a major religious center. A large number of caves were constructed at Mogao during this era and at its height, there were more than 1,000 caves. Murals in the caves are valued for the scale and richness of content as well as their artistry.

Now there are more than 700 known caves in Mogao and through the years, some murals were damaged. The Dunhuang Academy (the former Research Institute of Dunhuang Art) has been engaging in protecting the site and its contents since 1944, including doing reproductions. Visitors to the original caves may not have the chance to get a closer view of the protected murals but at the Shenzhen exhibition, they can admire the magnificent mural art in detail. Buddhist subjects are most common, however some portray traditional mythical subjects and portraits of patrons. These murals document the changing styles of Buddhist art in China for nearly 1,000 years.

Reproductions of statues at the exhibition also show fine artistry and many sculptures are brightly painted. The most stunning one is the reproduction of the reclining Buddha from Mogao Cave 158. The Buddha figure, measuring 15.6-meter long, covers the entire length of the hall. Figures of mourners in murals or in sculptural forms are also depicted along the length of the hall behind the Buddha.

Each item in the exhibition has a detailed caption in both English and Chinese, which gives visitors an informative explanation of the history, religion and artistry behind the works.

Upon reaching the third floor, large pillows are scattered on the floor for visitors to rest upon while watching animated projections on the ceiling. Beautiful flying apsaras and religious images are depicted.

“By blending art and technology, visitors’ experience is enhanced,” said Yang Juze, founder and chairman of Blooming Investment. He added that part of the ticket earnings will be donated to Dunhuang protection projects.

Dates: Until March 30

Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Tickets: 120 yuan (children or students), 130 yuan (adult on weekdays), 150 yuan (adult on weekend), 330 yuan (2 adults + 1 child)

Venue: OCT Harbor Exhibition Center, OCT Harbor, Baishi Road, Nanshan District (南山区白石路欢乐海岸创展中心)

Metro: Line 9, Shenzhen Bay Park Station (深圳湾公园站), Exit E