The Diamond Sutra from The International Dunhuang Project Newsletter Issue 38

The International Dunhuang Project (IDP) The Silk Road Online, is a ground-breaking international collaboration to make information and images of all manuscripts, paintings, textiles and artefacts from Dunhuang (敦煌) and archaeological sites of the Eastern Silk Road freely available on the Internet and to encourage their use through educational and research programmes.

Boddhisattva, Guide of Souls. Tang Dynasty, late 9th century
The British Museum


Little was known of the remarkable heritage of the Silk Road until explorers and archaeologists of the early twentieth century uncovered the ruins of ancient cities in the desert sands, revealing astonishing sculptures, murals and manuscripts. One of the most notable discoveries was the Buddhist cave library near the oasis town of Dunhuang on the edge of the Gobi desert in western China. The cave had been sealed and hidden at the end of the first millennium AD and only re-discovered in 1900. Forty thousand manuscripts, paintings and printed documents on paper and silk were found in the cave itself. Tens of thousands more items were excavated from other Silk Road archaeological sites. These unique items have fascinating stories to tell of life on this great trade route from 100 BC to AD 1400. Yet most were dispersed to institutions worldwide in the early 1900s, making access difficult.



Suggested reading:

Inoue, Jasushi, Tun-huang: A Novel. Tokyo, New York and San Francisco: Kodansha International Ltd, 1978.
Mirsky, Jeannette, Sir Aurel Stein: Archaeological Explorer. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1997.
Whitfield, Roderick, The Art of Central Asia: The Stein Collection in the British Museum. Tokyo: Kodansha International Ltd, 1982-5.