Princeton Area Alumni Association

Social Activities: Revisiting the Dunhuang Buddhist Caves

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Revisiting the Dunhuang Buddhist Caves

Art and Architecture of the Dunhuang Caves:  Anatomy of a cave (or two)

Dora C. Y. Ching *11

Associate Director of the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art at Princeton University

Saturday October 16, 2021, 9 am EDT


A4P and the Association of Graduate Princeton Alumni (AGPA) are delighted to host Princeton University’s Tang Center for East Asian Art Associate Director Dora C. Y. Ching *11 for a fascinating presentation of the Dunhuang Buddhist Caves on Saturday October 16 at 9:00 - 10:30 AM EDT. Please note this event will not be recorded.

Builders, artisans, painters, and sculptors created nearly five hundred decorated cave temples at the Mogao Caves in Dunhuang, China from 400-1400 CE. This lecture takes an in-depth look at the art and architecture of a few of these caves, focusing in particular on the transmission and cross-influences of Buddhist imagery along the Silk Road.

For those who missed the June 24th presentation, here is a second chance. This is not the same presentation, however.  Per Dora:

I will have a brief intro—so if people haven’t heard a talk before, they will get some background on the Dunhuang Caves—and then I will focus primarily on the art architecture of one cave in the context of the Silk Road. Aside from introductory material, this is a different talk. The other talk was more of an overview; this will be an in-depth look at Mogao Cave 285.

Registration details here.

Any questions, please email here.


Speaker Profile

Ph.D., Princeton University, 2011

Dora Ching has been associate director of the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art(link is external) at Princeton University since 2002. She is a leading specialist in Chinese portraiture and the characteristics that distinguish this genre from its European and American counterparts. Before and during her time at the Tang Center she has been deeply engaged in book editing and publication, with more than a dozen books to her credit as coeditor or managing editor. She is the author of numerous published book chapters and articles and has co-curated three major museum exhibitions.

During her graduate years at Princeton, Ching served as research assistant at the National Palace Museum in Taipei and as an editor of the National Palace Museum Bulletin. She also worked at the Princeton University Art Museum on the exhibition The Embodied Image: Chinese Calligraphy from the John B. Elliott Collection. She held the Jane and Morgan Whitney Art History Fellowship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, working on 19th- and 20th-century Chinese painting. The wide range of her research and study experience is reflected in the books she has worked on, from early Shang archaeology through family issues in Chinese art, calligraphy, and contemporary Chinese arts.

Selected Bibliography

 Agnew, Neville, Marcia Reed, and Tevvy Ball, eds. Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road. Los Angeles, CA: Getty Conservation Institute, 2016.

 Ching, Dora C.Y.,ed. Visualizing Dunhuang: Seeing, Studying, and Conserving the Caves. Princeton: P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art, Princeton University, in association with Princeton University Press, 2021.*          

Hansen, Valerie. The Silk Road: A New History. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

 Hopkirk, Peter. Foreign Devils on the Silk Road: The Search for the Lost Cities and Treasures of Chinese Central Asia. London: Murray, 1980.

Rong Xinjiang. Eighteen Lectures on Dunhuang. Translated by Imre Galambos. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2013. 

 Whitfield, Susan. Silk, Slaves, and Stupas: Material Culture of the Silk Road. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2018.

Whitfield, Roderick, Susan Whitfield, and Neville Agnew. Cave Temples of Mogao at Dunhuang:

Art and History on the Silk Road. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Getty Conservation Institute, 2015.

* Available from Princeton University Press 20% discount through 31 August 2021. Enter code FRDUN at checkout.


Dora C.Y. Ching                                                                                    2021-06-30

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