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A chronicle of Dunhuang: from Silk Road to Belt and Road

By Kou Jie (People's Daily Online)    14:33, October 22, 2018

Donor Portrait of Lady Wang of Taiyuan, cave 130 Mogao Grottoes, high Tang Dynasty 705-780 A.D.

The Buddhist gods, meditating in their sequestered shrines which peep out over the cliffs of Dunhuang, have witnessed the desert change over a millennium. Although this pivotal oasis along the ancient Silk Road may appear a small sandpile without any unique characteristics, for the trading and cultural exchanges of the East and the West, this couldn't be further from the truth.

Over 700 years ago, when Marco Polo first visited Dunhuang, a city surrounded by a myriad of Buddhist grottoes, he was spellbound by the fusion of thriving international trade and vibrant culture. In his well-known book The Travels of Marco Polo, the Venetian adventurer detailed the city as an international economic and cultural hub, for it created an unprecedented connection between the East and the West.

Centuries later, following the reinvigoration of the ancient Silk Road into the new “Belt and Road Initiative,” Dunhuang has once again caught the world’s attention. In February, scholars from China and Italy launched the first ever exhibition of Buddhist Art from Dunhuang in Polo's hometown of Venice, to commemorate the dust-laden trading and cultural exchanges between the two furthest reaches of the ancient Eurasian route.

The Mogao Caves. (Photo by Kou Jie/People' s Daily Online)

“Dunhuang, a city that boasts openness and respect to other cultures, preserves its ancient allure in the modern era, as international cooperation and mutual understanding between countries are highly desirable today. These core values are imprinted in the history of Dunhuang,” said Zhao Shengliang, Deputy Director of Dunhuang Academy.


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(Web editor: Kou Jie, Bianji)

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