Ca’ Foscari University of Venice is hosting Italy’s first-ever exhibition of Buddhist art from Dunhuang. The exhibition, titled Jewel of the Silk Road: Buddhist Art of Dunhuang, was launched on 22 February and will run until 18 April.
On display are replicas of two Mogao caves, including painted murals depicting scenes from Chinese life and society from the 4th–14th centuries, as well as daily life in Dunhuang, once a religious and cultural crossroads on the Silk Road in present-day Gansu Province, China, along with numerous Buddhist sculptures. The exhibition has been organized by the university in cooperation with Dunhuang Academy in mainland China and the Hong Kong-based Dunhuang Culture Promotion Foundation, with the aim of introducing the Buddhist art from the Mogao grottoes to Italy.
Venice and Dunhuang, both ancient centres of commerce and trade, share a centuries-old connection. Marco Polo, one of history’s most famous Venetians, traveled to China more than 700 years ago, passing through Dunhuang. Polo described Dunhuang as a major hub on the ancient Silk Road, in his detailed travel accounts.
“The choice of Venice and Ca’ Foscari as venues of the exhibition could not be happier and more appropriate if we consider the many common traits linking the two cities: Venice, pearl of the Adriatic Sea, and Dunhuang, jewel of the Gobi desert; Venice which gave birth to Marco Polo, and Dunhuang which was [visited] by Marco Polo during his trip to Asia; Venice and Dunhuang, which together contributed to giving a strong impulse to trade, to the spreading of ideas, beliefs, customs, and to the artistic expressions of the peoples encountered by Marco Polo and travelers who preceded and followed him,” observed Michele Bugliesi, rector of Ca’ Foscari University. (cafoscari news)
“To host The Jewel of the Silk Road: Buddhist art of Dunhuang is a source of pride and an initiative of great importance for Ca’ Foscari in the year of its 150th anniversary,” Bugliesi added. (cafoscari news)
The Chinese government has placed a renewed emphasis on its Silk Road legacy with the “Belt and Road Initiative,” which is aimed at strengthening economic and cultural ties with former Silk Road nations. According to the China Daily newspaper, the exhibition provides an opportunity to renew the friendship between the two nations and to establish trade and cultural exchange.
The Belt and Road Initiative refers to a two-pronged strategy launched with the aim of developing economic and cultural co-operation among the countries of the Eurasian continental landmass. The plan’s two aspects include the Silk Road Economic Belt, which encompasses the overland route across Central Asia and Russia all the way to Belarus and Rotterdam, and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which connects the ports of China with those of Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, the Gulf and Africa, and the Mediterranean.
Wang Xudong, head of Dunhuang Academy, expressed hope that the exhibition in Venice would help visitors to learn more about the Mogao caves and traditional Chinese culture.
Vernissage of the exhibition on Buddhist Art of Dunhuang open until April 8th at Ca’ Foscari (cafoscari news)
Chinese Buddhist art exhibition kicks off in Venice (ChinaDaily.com.cn)
Dunhuang cave art replicas on display in Italy (XinhuaNet)