The discovery and removal of manuscripts and paintings from Dunhuang in the early 20th centuries, while China was unable to protect them, is still a very controversial subject.
I think the western explorers would not have regarded themselves as thieves and looters, as the Chinese still see them, but as archeologists trying to save the remains of a forgotten civilisation.
There is no doubt however that the dispersal of the Dunhuang treasures over as many as ten different countries, is one of the greatest scandals in recent art history, and hinders a proper understanding of the history of the site.
This is the first film in a series of ten that look at Dunhuang, its collections and their importance. The film is dubbed in English, from a Chinese original, and suffers a little from poor pronunication, but still the information it contains is valuable.
In this first episode we see how the caves were rediscovered and how the artifacts they contained were sold off to foreign explorers, and although it is hardly the full story of these events, it does throw some light on how they are seen in China.
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