Dunhuang painting and art gallery is the place that you can take a break from the heat in the air-conditioned haven of an exhibition center next to the Mogao Grottoes. Take a break and use the restroom and while you're there, make use of the opportunity for cultural enrichment. The Dunhuang Grotto Art Protection Center gives you a chance to learn more about the Mogao Caves either before or after you go. If you take a look before you go, you could get a chance to learn more about the caves you will soon enter.
The center offers a bilingual explanation of the art pieces, gives demonstrations and has models. If you wish to prolong your Mogao Cave experience, make sure to stop by the center as they house the real Buddha statues. It's a chance you shouldn't miss it. You will also find art replicas of the caves in the exhibition center.
From the present-day city, it's hard to picture the importance of ancient Dunhuang. Its strategic position meant that it was an important transit point for the spreading of Buddhism, which entered China during the 3rd century AD. As Buddhism developed, so did the city. During the 4th century, Dunhuang was the last stop for Chinese Buddhist pilgrims on the road to India and the first stop for arriving missIonaries.
Reflecting on the convergence of influences in this area, the architecture in the caves is a mixture of Chinese, Central Asian and Indian styles, which is more apparent in the earlier pre-Tang caves. After the Tang dynasty, there wasn't any space left to carve new caves, forcing artisans to re-work older caves. Some stylistic differences to look for are: the older statues tend to be stiffer and appear stronger with the lines are much more defined. Tang sculptures tend to be fluid, with flowing lines - this is especially clear when looking at the robes of the statues. Whereas earlier statues have severe and dour faces, Tang statues are lively and expressive
The wall paintings are the big draw at the caves. If the paintings were lined up end to end they would measure 15.5 miles ( 25 km ). The paintings are so important as a historical record that scholars have dubbed them a " mounted library. Some paintings are Buddhist scriptures and sutras, while others illustrate the different ethnicities that passed through Dunhuang. Social hierarchies, traditions, clothing, even music, and dancing have been the subject of ancient painters. The different traditions and how they've evolved have been recorded, from important life events such as marriages to mundane activities like farming and business transactions.