This is a really excellent introduction to the recent history of the Mogao caves at Dunhuang by CCTV Channel 9 as part of its China Archives of World Heritage series, with archival footage and rare photographs.
It shows how, when China was at one of its lowest ever points politically, European and Japanese explorers started making off with some of the greatest art treasures the world has seen. Thousands of other manuscripts and paintings were stolen by corrupt officials in China itself, and others were simply lost en route to a new home, the total effect being that a section of the collection was dispersed around the world on the one hand, and lost and destroyed on the other.
That so much has survived is a wonder in itself, and it still constitutes what is sometimes called the Longest Art Gallery in the World. Now thanks to dedicated work in China itself and with co-operation from institutions around the world there is an attempt to enable comprehensive studies of the works, both literary and plastic, to be made.
Note when the video is running it looks like the programme will be 54 minutes long, but it is only 27 minutes, it then (unintentionally?) runs into another programme in the series, on the Great Wall of China.
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