Zhang Xiaogang's Mission at Dunhuang Academy to preserve eternity
Tea House: Interviews, Commentary, Reviews, Poetry

Zhang Xiaogang’s Mission at Dunhuang Academy to preserve eternity

Zhang Xiaogang, deputy head of the Academy and director of its Archaeology Institute, is a pivotal figure in preserving the Mogao Grottoes’ heritage.

His favorite piece, the “Mona Lisa of the East” sculpture in Cave 259, exemplifies early Mogao .

In a comprehensive talk at the Academy, Zhang highlighted the historical and cultural significance of the sites under the Academy’s care.

In February 2024, the Dunhuang Academy published the second volume of the “Complete Collection of the Dunhuang Grottoes,” an extensive archaeological report on Caves 256, 257, and 259, a project spanning over a decade.

This volume, containing nearly 300 , 100 archaeological surveying plates, over 900 photographs, and 43 digital panoramas, follows the first volume published in 2011 under Dr. Fan Jinshi’s editorship.

This publication marks the 30th anniversary of the project initiated by Dr. Fan in 1994.

Zhang Xiaogang emphasizes the critical role of archaeological reports in preserving the caves’ legacy, allowing future generations to restore the caves even if they no longer exist.

This aspiration underscores the Academy’s mission amid the caves’ inevitable deterioration due to popularity, nature, and .

The digital center and various projects at the Academy focus on this prime concern, ensuring that the sculptures and murals are preserved digitally.

With Dr. Fan’s retirement, Zhang continues her vision, addressing the evolving needs of the Mogao Grottoes in the 21st century.

His ensures that while the physical structures may erode, their artistic and spiritual remains eternal.

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