THE SILK ROAD TREASURES COMES TO THE GETTY

If not soon, but definitely this Summer, get yourself to the Getty Center to see the Cave Temples of Dunhuang, an engaging, enlightening exhibit displaying Buddhist art uncovered on China’s ancient Silk Road.

The singular exhibit is the focus of my weekly arts and entertainment commentary heard on 97.5 KBU , and everywhere on radiomalibu.net and select websites. And in summary, it is a rave, prompted by the exhibit’s rare treasures imaginatively displayed.

Some background: There by some estimates were 1,000 temples carved into cliffs known as the Mogao Grottoes, on the western edge of the Gobi Desert, near the oasis town of Dunhuang, creating a treasure trove of archeological artifacts.

For nearly a thousand years, from the 4th to the 14th centuries, the town was a gateway on the landmark road linking medieval China, Europe and India, serving traversing merchants and monks. That is before trade routes took to the seas and land routes and the towns along them languished and some vanished..

Though a World Heritage Site, for the last 25 years under the care of the Getty Conservation Institute and a local Chinese academy, the town for all its rich history is not an accessible tourist attraction, and I venture to add few will ever visit.

That in part makes this exhibit fascinating, and all the more so by featuring three full scale replicas of select grotto temples decorated with paintings and sculptures, dating back to the fifth, sixth and eighth centuries.

They were exquisitely hand painted by local artist aided by international scholars, and lend touring them, in a temporary structure on the Getty arrival plaza, a singular museum experience. Be prepared to get a free timed ticket and nevertheless still wait on a line, but it is worth it. Jt’s just unfortunate the Getty does not provide seating for the handicapped and elderly.

But before entering the temples, you are directed to the Getty Research Institute galleries, where there are video presentations and a selection of objects detailing the history of the temples and the grotto. They are a must to appreciating the replicated caves.

This includes the a detailed Chinese scripted Diamond Sutra, indicating its printing in 868, making it the first such book ever so dated. Incredibly, it was one of 50.000 manuscripts and art pieces found stored in just one cave, appropriately labeled the Library Cave.
 

 

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hallkaplan

Parallel careers as an urban planner and a journalist, principally at present airing commentaries on pubic radio 99.1 KBU.FM The many arrows in my quiver have included Emmy award winning reporter/ producer for local Fox Television News, design critic for the Los Angeles Times, urban affairs reporter for The New York Times, an editor of The New York Post, contributor to various popular and professional publications, news services and broadcast outlets, including Reuters, NET, NBC, CBS, NPR and the BBC. Founding editor of the East Harlem (NY) Independent. A diversity of professional positions and consultancies in the private and public sectors, (Metro, Disney Imagineering, Howard Hughes, M. Milken, NYC Educational Construction Fund, US Comptroller of the Currency etc,) assorted academic appointments (UCLA, USC, CCNY, Art Center etc.), and always open to new challenge. And let us not forget fashioning sand castles and acting on 90210, crafting TV docs, design reviews, master plans. Books: "The Dream Deferred: People, Politics and Planning in Suburbia," "L.A. Lost and Found," an architectural history of Los Angeles, "L.A. Follies," a collection of essays, and co-author of "The New York City Handbook." Writings have appeared in academic texts, commentaries on the web, scripts for TV, and wherever, latest the Architects Newspaper, The Planning Report and Planetizen.

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