Dunhuang students fly in town to guide visitors at grotto art exhibition

Three pupils from Dunhuang, an oasis town on the ancient Silk Road, became guest guides over the weekend for visitors to the Buddhist grotto art on display now in Shanghai.
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

Three pupils from Dunhuang, an oasis town on the ancient Silk Road, became guest guides over the weekend for visitors to the Buddhist grotto art on display now in Shanghai.

Three life-size replicas of the famous grottoes in northwest China’s Gansu Province, are the highlight of the exhibition which runs until February 28 next year at Shanghai Tower, the city’s tallest building at a height of 632 meters.

The three replicas, two from Mogao Caves and one from Yulin Caves, are reproduced using high-definition scanning and printing technologies.

The three grottoes, dating back from the 5th to early 11th centuries, showcase the features of three different periods of the Dunhuang grottoes, the world's largest treasury of Buddhist art. They also display ancient China's cultural exchanges with the western countries along the Silk Road.

Over the weekend, the three primary school students from Dunhuang flied to Shanghai and serve as volunteer guides. They dressed up in traditional Han clothes. One of them, 11-year-old Lu Huaijin, explained the murals of Mogao Caves' No. 220 grotto, one of the most famous grottoes built in early Tang Dynasty (618-907).

“All of our mothers work as guides at Mogao Caves and thus we know about the grottoes since we are very young,” said Lu from the Nanjie Primary School in Dunhuang.

She explained to the visitors about the Buddhas, ancient musical instruments and scenes of life painted on the grotto. Also, she added some of her own understandings and interacted with visitors.

"See, this one on the mural wore a piece of clothes similar to today’s V-neck shirt and another wore a romper-like dress. The ancient people wore what still prevail today," as she said.

The three young guides also performed traditional Dunhuan dance, based on the flying Apsaras portrayed in the grottoes. Primary and middle school students visiting the exhibition over the weekend took part in a quiz based on the history and culture of Dunhuang.


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