Smithsonian 3D Exhibition Features Ancient Buddhist Cave Art

Pure Land: Inside the Mogao Grottes at Dunhuang.

Pure Land: Inside the Mogao Grottes at Dunhuang. Photo via the Sackler Gallery

An interactive 3D exhibition on now at the Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery in Washington allows visitors to experience a 1500-year old intricately painted Buddhist cave from northwest China.

Using laser scanning and ultra-high-resolution photography a team from China’s Dunhuang Academy have recreated on one of the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas, also known as the Mogao Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is one of the finest examples of Buddhist art in existence.

Over a period of about 1,000 years, Buddhist monks practicing meditation at this natural oasis on the Silk Road, carved over 600 “caves” into the nearby rock escarpment and covered them with intricate paintings.

The project began as a way to preserve the caves which are being damaged by a recent tourist boom. In addition to the travelling exhibition, a permanent virtual cave will be constructed along side caves, to help accommodate the increasing numbers of tourists.

The exhibition, “Pure Land: Inside the Mogao Grottoes at Dunhuang”, will be on display until Sunday, December 9th before returning in the spring of 2013 for a longer-term visit to the International Center Gallery.

Take a Virtual 3D Journey to Visit China’s Caves of the Thousand Buddhas [Around the Mall via Dean Wiseman]

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