Digital copies of Mogao caves photographs completed

The high-precision digital copies of 405 photographs of the Mogao caves, taken by the French Pelliot delegation in the year 1908, were officially transferred to the Dunhuang Research Institute on October 14 for preservation and research.

The return of these precious photographs is of great significance to the preservation and archeology of the Dunhuang caves, the digitization of cultural relics, and for storing the information in the photographs.

The Mogao caves are located in Gansu Province in northwest China. They were first constructed in the 3rd century C.E., and today there are 735 Buddhist statue caves, 45,000 square meters of frescoes, and 2,415 painted sculptures.

The Mogao caves have witnessed the spread of Buddhism from India into China and finally into the history of Chinese culture. Its exquisite frescoes and statues of great attainments are must-sees in the world of art history. 

From 1906 to 1908, French Sinologist Paul Pelliot led an expedition to the Kashgar region and Tumshuq in Xinjiang, as well as to the Dunhuang caves in Gansu, carrying out an extensive investigation.

The expedition arrived in Dunhuang in February 1908, and Charles Nuet, a photographer, took many photos, recording all aspects of the Mogao caves.

It is reported that the French National Library had already presented digital copies of the scrolls taken from the Dunhuang caves to the research institute at an earlier time.

Sun Zhijun, director of the Dunhuang Research Institute Internet Center, contrasted the topographic features of the Mogao caves in the 1908 photographs, and he believes that construction on the Mogao caves continued after 1908. Many statues were lost after 1908. Due to natural factors, the lower-level caves changed more than the upper-level caves.