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Dunhuang Academy’s protection team work to ensure relics not lost to sands of time

Early this year, the Dunhuang Academy’s cultural relics protection team earned the title of National Outstanding Engineering Team, the highest honor in China’s engineering field.

Su Bomin, director of the Dunhuang Academy and head of the cultural relics protection team, has dedicated nearly 40 years to mural protection work. Since 1992, the Dunhuang Academy’s cultural relics protection team has grown from four members to over 200 today.

Cultural Heritage

They have successively rescued and preserved cultural heritage sites in 153 locations across 13 provinces and regions, providing a Chinese solution for the protection of ancient murals and polychrome sculptures worldwide.

“Through the continuous efforts of several generations at the Mogao Grottoes, effective protection and management have been achieved, gradually restoring the site’s former glory,” Su said.

The Mogao Grottoes stands as the largest and best-preserved Buddhist cave art site in the world, with 735 caves spanning a cliff face 1,700 meters long, containing over 45,000 square meters of murals and more than 2,000 polychrome sculptures.

It is one of only two heritage sites in the world that meet all six criteria for World Cultural Heritage.

The protection and restoration of cultural relics such as the Mogao Grottoes have garnered attention worldwide. The Dunhuang Academy has collaborated with countries such as Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan, promoting a complete set of techniques for cultural heritage protection.

Dunhuang

Early this year, the Dunhuang Academy’s cultural relics protection team received the title of National Outstanding Engineering Team, China’s highest honor in the field of engineering.

Su Bomin, the director of the Dunhuang Academy and head of the cultural relics protection team, has worked in mural protection for nearly 40 years. The Dunhuang Academy’s cultural relics protection team has grown from four members in 1992 to over 200 members today.

They have successively rescued and preserved cultural heritage sites in 153 locations across 13 provinces and regions, providing a Chinese solution for the protection of ancient murals and polychrome sculptures worldwide.

“Several generations’ continuous efforts at the Mogao Grottoes have achieved effective protection and management, gradually restoring the site’s former glory,” Su said.

Mogao Grottoes

The Mogao Grottoes stands as the largest and best-preserved Buddhist cave art site in the world, with 735 caves spanning a cliff face 1,700 meters long, containing over 45,000 square meters of murals and more than 2,000 polychrome sculptures.

It is one of only two heritage sites in the world that meet all six criteria for World Cultural Heritage.

The protection and restoration of cultural relics such as the Mogao Grottoes have garnered attention worldwide. The Dunhuang Academy has collaborated with countries such as Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan, promoting a complete set of techniques for cultural heritage protection.

After four years and the formulation of 81 different recipes, they finally developed a suitable injection formula through repeated improvements.

With the “prescription” in hand, the next step was how to apply it.

Fan Zaixuan, a member of the cultural relics protection team, has been involved in the restoration of ancient murals for 43 years.

He said fixing murals needs really careful work and can’t have any mistakes. Regular tools aren’t good enough, so the team made their own tools for fixing murals.

They replaced the plunger of a traditional syringe with an ear syringe, creating a device that looks like a needle with a balloon attached at the bottom.

“This was to allow for more injection material and to better control the injection volume,” Su explained.

After eight years, the slow-down issues in Cave 85 were resolved.

“This was a process of going from zero to one,” Su said.

Technical Protection

In the early 1990s, China had not yet achieved unified technical protection and site management. This restoration directly prompted the introduction of the Chinese Cultural Relics and Historical Sites Protection Guidelines, providing a set of ideas and methods for the protection of China’s cultural relics.

Regarding future development, Su said, “We hope to make Dunhuang better known to the world through our efforts.” He added that the digitization of Dunhuang plays an irreplaceable role in this endeavor.

The Dunhuang Academy began working digitally in the late 1980s.

On May 1, 2016, Digital Dunhuang officially launched, allowing people worldwide to appreciate the exquisite murals in 30 caves of the Mogao Grottoes online.

By 2022, they had completed very exact data collection for 300 caves, more than half of the assigned a number of caves in Dunhuang.

“The Mogao Grottoes keep getting worse over time; nothing lasts forever,” Su remembered Fan Jinshi’s words, “We spend our lives fighting to protect them, trying to keep them safe for longer.”

peoplesdaily

Kaifi Ahmad
Kaifi Ahmad
Through his work, Yasir aims not only to inform but also to empower readers, equipping them with the knowledge and understanding needed to make informed decisions in an increasingly digital financial world. With a commitment to accuracy, integrity, and innovation, Yasir continues to be a driving force in shaping the discourse surrounding fintech on FintechZoomPro.net.

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