Dunhuang, Lost Music of the Stone Chamber (7 of 8)

Lost Music of the Stone Chamber

This is the seventh in an eight-part series by China Central Television (CCTV) on the interplay between the finds in the Mogao Caves and contemporary art in China.

The murals at the Magao Caves are justifiably the most famous artifact of the ancient site, but they were not the only find that originated there.

When a room was opened by the Taoist caretaker Wang Yuanlu in 1900 he found inside more than 50,000 manuscripts which had been hidden away for preservation.

Most of these were removed by European and Japanese explorers in subsequent years, and it is a measure of how diligent they were that in the end only 10,000 remain in China.

Amongst the manuscripts that were taken to France were some with an unknown script, which turned out to be T’ang Dynasty musical notation.

This week the documentary is about the attempts to read the notation and to remake the music they contain.

Although many attempts have been made, scholars agree the code has not been successfully broken yet, but it has inspired many a musician to produce new music based on their understanding of the script.

 

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