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Many of them are portable Buddhist paintings that were deposited in Cave 17, near Dunhuang. From professionally made artworks to personal votive items, these can be made on a variety of materials including silk, hemp and paper. Banners like 1919,0101,0.3 were used in ritual Buddhist practice and display a range of production techniques, iconography and practical uses. These objects could help investigate important questions about arts patronage, the materials trade along the Silk Roads, and cultural or religious exchanges.

A small number of wall painting fragments are held in various institutions, such as the British Museum, with finds excavated in Khadalik and Mingoi. The murals of the Mogao Caves, which have long been touchstones for Buddhist devotion and scholarly examination, are being digitised by the Dunhuang Academy. You can find historic photographs of the caves in the Stein collection and in the Vincent collection.

Highlights from the collection