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Dunhuang Resources: Recommended Websites, Books, Films about Dunhuang

Situated in the oasis of northwestern Gansu Province, western China, Dunhuang is an important outpost city along the Silk Road in ancient China. At present, it is known for its matchless cultural splendor and wondrous historical relics. Among these great finds in Dunhuang, the grottoes and caves have been rediscovered during the modern times and Dunhuang Academy has been formed according to it.

To help you have a better understanding of Dunhuang and its culture and history, the followings are popular websites and recommended books and documentaries related to Dunhuang.

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Recommended Dunhuang Websites

Digital Dunhuang: The Digital Dunhuang Project has been launched by Dunhuang Academy since 2016. It aims to preserve the visual documents of Dunhuang grottoes. It has recorded over 30 caves, 4,430 square meters Area of murals in the Mogao Caves which can be dated back to 10 different dynasties. You can enjoy digital materials with even more details. Videos, high-quality pictures, and text descriptions are provided cave by cave as well as the illustration and background introduction of some renowned murals in Dunhuang.


Mogao Caves Ticket Office: This is the official website of Mogao Caves Ticket Office, which offers a ticket booking service for visiting Mogao Caves. However, the website is only in Chinese and serves mainly for Chinese citizens. If you can read Chinese and has a valid phone number, you can try to sign and log in to book the tickets.


Dunhuang Academy: If you are doing research on Dunhuang or the Silk Road, there are some academic websites for you to check more information from Dunhuang scholars.


Dunhuang related info from UNESCO: The Mogao caves has been listed on the world heritage site in 1987. Also, as an important outpost along the silk road, Dunhuang is under the listed on the official website of UNESCO silk road pages.

• The Mogao Caves: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/440/

• Dunhuang https://en.unesco.org/silkroad/content/dunhuang

Dunhuang related info from the Getty: The Getty has also devoted itself to the conservation of the Dunhuang Caves since 30 years ago. Digital documents have been recorded from the caves; Exhibitions have been held at home and abroad; researches and programs have been launched; Lots of artists and musicians also have got inspired by the caves.

• Dunhuang: http://www.getty.edu/search/global/?col=getty&nh=10&qt=dunhuang

• Cave Temples of Dunhuang: http://blogs.getty.edu/iris/series/cave-temples-of-dunhuang/

Official Website of Dunhuang Academy Institute for Public: If you are a Chinese reader, the website is open to the public with various info about the institute itself, the meetings and exhibitions being held and educational articles and documentaries about the Dunhuang caves.

• Home page: http://public.dha.ac.cn/

• Interesting Stories about Dunhuang murals with English subtitle: http://public.dha.ac.cn/content.aspx?id=470311238356/

• Dunhuang Caves Documentaries: http://public.dha.ac.cn/content.aspx?id=061926962533

• VR Guide of the Mogao Caves: http://public.dha.ac.cn/quanjing/vr/waijing/vtour/tour.html

Dunhuang Foundations: to have a better conservation of the Dunhuang caves, there are foundations and organizations listed for you to donate or contact with.

• Dunhuang Foundation: http://dunhuangfoundation.us/

• Friends of Dunhuang (Hong Kong): http://www.fodhk.org.hk/en_us/

• China Dunhuang Grottoes Conservation Research Foundation: http://fund.dha.ac.cn/

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Recommended Dunhuang Books

Dunhuang Resources

Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road
by Neville Agnew, Marcia Reed, et al. | May 7, 2016
Type: Hardcover
Price: $59.95
This volume includes outstanding photos and well written articles about the cave Temples of Dunhuang (essays by leading scholars, an illustrated portfolio on replica caves, and comprehensive entries on all objects in a exhibition which was organized by the Getty Conservation Institute, Getty Research Institute, Dunhuang Academy, and Dunhuang Foundation).

Dunhuang Resources

Cave Temples of Mogao at Dunhuang: Art and History on the Silk Road
by Roderick Whitfield, Susan Whitfield, et al. | Sep 15, 2015
Type: Paperback
Price: $29.62
Cave Temples of Mogao at Dunhuang, first published in 2000, combines lavish color photographs of the caves and their art with the fascinating history of the Silk Road. Chapters narrate the development of Dunhuang and the Mogao cave temples, the iconography of the wall paintings, and the extraordinary story of the rare manuscripts.

Dunhuang Resources

The Caves of Dunhuang
by Fan Jinshi, et al. | May 7, 2016
Type: Hardcover
Price: $125
This book is a visual feast. Since the impact of cave art depends so much on color, the big color photos in this book are of major importance. The quality of reproduction is stunning. Both paintings and sculptures are beautifully photographed. And the text offers descriptions of the legends and happenings portrayed in the narrative paintings.

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Recommended Dunhuang Documentaries

Dunhuang Resources

The Art of Dun Huang
Language: Chinese
Director: Zhou Bing
Premiere: 2010
"Dunhuang" is in ten episodes, each running for 45 minutes. It presents a compelling chronicle of the historical site of Dunhuang. Released by CCTV in 2010, it aims to capture different sides of Dunhuang and its culture which has rooted in all walks of life, including the mysterious Library Cave discoverer Wan Yuanlua, Art Students, normal widow family, and scholars in Dunhuang.

Dunhuang Resources

Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes Full Picture of Beauty
Language: Japanese
Producer: NHK
Premiere: 2008
Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes Full Picture of Beauty is in two episodes, each running for 108 minutes. The first episode is The Glory of the Great Tang Dynasty, and the second is Millennium Prayer Hall, both of which present beautiful caves and murals cave by cave with detailed introduction and historic background, from the prosperous Tang Dynasty to its downfall.

Dunhuang Resources

Dunhuang Acting Bodhisattvas
Language: Chinese
Director: Qinchuan / Anqiu
Premiere: 2013
"Dunhuang opera and Paradise" is the first documentary in China that focuses on the development of Dunhuang's ancient music and dance. The film presents thousands of ancient music and dance according to the murals of Mogao Caves and Yulin Caves in Dunhuang, and the development process of music and dance in the western regions of China over 1,000 years.

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How to Plan a Dunhuang Tour

Usually, 2~4 days are needed to explore the highlights of Dunhuang. The world heritage site Mogao Caves and the stunning landscape of Mingsha Mountain and Crescent Lake are two Must-Go attractions which take a full day to visit. You can then spend one more day to explore the western region of Dunhuang which also has a lot of attractions, such as the ruin of Great Wall, Yumenguan Pass, Yardang Landform, etc. As for the downtown sites, if time allows, don't miss the Shazhou Night Market and Dunhuang Museum.

Some travelers usually travel Dunhuang with other destinations in Gansu, such as Jiayuguan, Zhangye, Lanzhou, etc. One can even travel from Dunhuang to Turpan, Urumqi of Xinjiang.

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Travel Dunhuang with China Discovery

Travel with China Discovery, our professional local guide and driver will escort you from your hotel, train station, airport to all attractions with comfortable licensed private car, to catch the highlights of Dunhuang. If you are interested, please do not hesitate to contact us and tell us your needs, and we will customize a memorable tour for you!

Mogao Caves

Sculptures, Murals, Facade of the Mogao Caves

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