The Hidden Library at Dunhuang
A talk by Sonya Lee (USC)
Thursday, May 19, 2005
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Professor Lothar von Falkenhausen invites to public to attend a lecture by Professor Sonya Lee, to be given in his class, Art and Material Culture of Early Imperial China.
The secret library at the Dunhuang, a complex of Buddhist shrines carved into cliff faces in the desert in Gansu province, is the sort of discovery that both adventurers and archaeologists dream of.
In 1900, the Taoist monk and caretaker Wang Yuan, by accident found a hidden library in a small stone room in one of the caves. The library, which contained well over 10,000 manuscripts and silk paintings, had evidently when walled up in the eleventh century to prevent the contents falling into the hands of invaders. There the treasure had lain for eight hundred years, protected by the bricks and by the dry desert air.
In March 1907, a British expedition under Sir Aurel Stein arrived at Dunhuang and visited Wang. Stein took away total of twenty-four cases, heavy with manuscripts, and five boxes of paintings, embroideries, and other relics, for which he paid a grand total of 130 pounds.
Most of these materials went to the British Museum.With the founding of the British Library in 1973, they were divided between the British Library, Chinese section (mainly manuscript sutras), and the British Museum (mainly paintings).
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Sonya Lee (Ph.D., University of Chicago), is an assistant professor of Art History and East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Southern California. Professor Lee specializes in Chinese art and visual culture of the medieval period (5th - 9th centuries). Her research focuses on Buddhist art along the ancient Silk Road. She is currently working on a book manuscript on premodern Chinese imagery of the Buddha Sakyamuni’s nirvan
For more information please contact
Tel: 310 825-8683