Cultural crossroads

A major exhibition examining the pivotal role played by the Tibetan Tubo regime in the Silk Road era is breaking new ground, Wang Kaihao reports in Dunhuang.

When you mention the ancient Silk Road to most people, they usually think of the Eurasian trade routes spreading from Chang’an, today’s Xi’an and the capital of Shaanxi province, toward Central Asia out through the deserts of Northwest China.

Dunhuang, Gansu province, served as a pivotal crossroads on this network of routes for over a millennium. It’s also an ideal place to gain an insight into the prosperity that those trade routes brought when you visit the nearby Mogao Grottoes. This complex of hundreds of caves features a host of exquisite statues and murals in a mix of artistic styles from a diverse range of civilizations.

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A major new exhibition of cultural relics held in Dunhuang will remind visitors that the Silk Road extended to a much wider area than first believed, covering the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and all the way up to the Himalayas.

This is the story being told through the 120 or so artifacts on loan from 30 institutions and collectors worldwide at Cultural Exchange Along the Silk Road: Masterpieces of the Tubo Period (7th-9th Century), a show currently being held at the Dunhuang Caves exhibition hall at the foot of the Mogao Grottoes.

The Tibetan Tubo regime was an approximate contemporary of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and a powerful regime which united the peoples of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

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