Digitalization applied to improve research into, protection of cultural relics inside Yungang Grottoes of N China’s Shanxi

(People's Daily Online) 10:09, June 27, 2022

Photo shows a repairer restoring a wall inside the No. 1 cave of the Yungang Grottoes, located in Datong city, north China’s Shanxi Province. (Xinhua/Yang Chenguang)

The extensive application of digital technologies in the protection of the Yungang Grottoes has facilitated research into and the precise protection of the cultural relics represented by the Yungang grotto culture, enabling more people to appreciate the glamour of the grottoes, which date back to more than 1,500 years.

“The grottoes are preserved in an open environment, which means they are easily affected by the external environment,” said Zhang Zhuo, secretary of the Party committee of the Yungang Grottoes Academy.

“We are collecting digital information about the grottoes, which will provide strong support for the conservation of the cultural relics,” Zhang added.

Staff members said it will take a long period of time to acquire and process digital information on all the cultural relics at the Yungang Grottoes as there are more than 59,000 sculptures in total, which are exquisite and large in size.

Zhang said they’ve finished one third of the work regarding the digitalization of the information inside the Yungang Grottoes.

In recent years, various projects have been carried out at the Yungang Grottoes, including protection and maintenance projects, surveys of the grottoes, construction of the monitoring system, installation of water-proofing projects, the digitalization of the cultural relics, and 3D printing, among other projects.

Cave No. 12 of the Yungang Grottoes, which is home to tens of cultural relics that are in the shape of musical instruments, has attracted worldwide attention.

The Yungang Grottoes Academy has worked with Zhejiang University to reproduce these cultural relics by collecting three-dimensional digital information on the cultural relics and then creating full-size replicas through 3D printing. In addition, some replicas can be dismantled and pieced together like building blocks, which means they can be transported to other places across the country and around the world for display.

By cooperating with Zhejiang University and Wuhan University, the Yungang Grottoes Academy has created full-size replicas of three grottoes through the use of 3D printing.

Two of the replicas, with one placed at a plaza in Qingdao, east China’s Shandong Province, and another located on the campus of the Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture in Beijing, have become landmark buildings that can give local people a glimpse into the Yungang grotto culture.

One grotto replica, which can be dismantled, has been displayed at Zhejiang University and the Powerlong Museum in Shanghai. This year, the same replica will be exhibited in Shenzhen, south China’s Guangdong Province.

“By 3D printing parts of cultural relics at the Yungang Grottoes and then piecing them together like building blocks, we have become a pioneer in the full-size reproduction of cultural relics that are big in size and heavy. We’ve achieved remarkable progress in exploring ways to exhibit immovable cultural relics and spreading the Yungang grotto culture around the world,” said Ning Bo, director of the digitalization office at the Yungang Grottoes Academy.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)


Related Stories