1976 / 8月
The Buddhist Murals in the Tunhuang caves of Kansu Province are art treasures that date back to the period of the 4th to 7th centuries. They have internationally known since 1900, when Buddhist scriptures were reportedly found in these caves. During the period of anti-Japanese War, famed artist Chang Dai-ch'ien went to Tunhuang, where he copied the murals in Mokao Cave, Yulin Cave and other caverns for three years. This made the Tunhuang murals even more famous. As Chang recalls, he copied more than 270 murals but escaped with only 61 of the copies from the mainland.
In 1968, Chang contributed all his mural copies and one piece of stone rubbing to the National Palace Museum, to show his support for the Chinese Cultural Renaissance Movement. From these copies, we can see the different portrayals of Buddhas, bodhisattvas, arhats and Buddhist monks (bodhisattvas are defined as compassionate beings considered future Buddhas, and arhats as monks who have attained nirvana). They also show styles of dancing from the North Wei, West Wei, and Sui dynasty until Tang dynasty. In Chang's opinion, the Tunhuang paintings are outstanding artistic works of the Chinese medieval age. They reveal Chinese art development from North Wei to the Yuan dynasty. He said that, through copying these murals, he obtained a better understanding of the costumes and titles of different dynasties, stone rubbings, color paintings and the styles of architecture. The ROC government has set up National Tunhuang Art Institute to help the people to understand the cultural value of the Tunhuang murals.
Chang Dai-ch'ien speaking at the National Palace Museum
(Above) The Goddess of Mercy, No.61
(Right) The Goddess of Mercy, No.58
(Left) Portrait of angel, No.57
Left: Portrait of Sakya, No.64
Right: Portrait of Sakya, No.66
Bottom: Some details of the portrait at right
53 arhat portraits of the Sung dynasty
Princess Li, the sponsor of Yulin Caves