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Israel tastes the majesty of the Mogao Grottoes

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The Mogao Grottoes in Northwest China's Gansu province. [Photo/Xinhua]

JERUSALEM - An exhibition centered around the Mogao Grottoes, a renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site in Northwest China's Gansu province, kicked off last week at the China Cultural Center in Tel Aviv, Israel.

The exhibition, which has been met with fascination by local attendees, includes two parts - the digital Dunhuang exhibition, titled The Pearl of the Silk Road Living in Digitized Eternity and the Chinese painting exhibition, titled Pilgrimage Dunhuang.

Wearing virtual reality glasses, visitors are able to appreciate the majesty of the famous caves, sculptures and paintings from the Mogao Grottoes, and interact with them.

Dozens of Chinese paintings depicting the Mogao Grottoes and their art, created by Gansu Art Institute, proved to be a star attraction.

A specialist from Dunhuang Academy gave a lecture about the site to give the local visitors to the exhibition a better understanding of the work and exhibits on show.

Nowadays, Dunhuang is a famous historical and cultural site in China, but it was once an important city along the ancient Silk Road, the bustling trade route linking China, Central Asia, the Middle East and Europe, said Tao Chen, the director of the China Cultural Center in Tel Aviv, at the opening ceremony of the exhibition.

Among all of the area's attractions, the Mogao Grottoes is undoubtedly the most prestigious and globally recognized, said Tao, adding that it is known especially for its Buddhist murals, sculptures and an impressive library - as well as for being one of three great Buddhist sculptural sites in China.

Gansu is located at the crossroads of ancient cultural exchanges between the East and West, as well as the ancient Silk Road, and the Mogao Grottoes is a unique art treasure for China and the whole world to enjoy, says Wang Chunsheng, the deputy director general of the Department of Culture and Tourism of Gansu Province.

Wang headed a cultural delegation comprised of specialists and artists from the Dunhuang Academy and Gansu Arts Institute to bring the exhibition to Israeli audiences.

The exhibition is expected to bring Gansu and Israel closer together and promote mutual cultural exchanges, says Wang.

"It is a lovely experience and lovely opportunity to visit the Mogao Grottoes without actually having to drive through the desert," says 66-year-old Daniel Bairey of the VR glasses after trying them with his wife.

"It is an incredible cultural heritage and a tremendous treasure of Buddhist knowledge," says Bairey, who has visited China twice. He adds he has a great interest in Chinese culture and would like to know more.

The exhibition was sponsored by the Department of Culture and Tourism of Gansu Province and the China Cultural Center in Tel Aviv, and organized by the Dunhuang Academy and Gansu Arts Institute.

The Mogao Grottoes is home to more than 2,000 colored sculptures and 45,000 square meters of murals, spread across 735 caves.

Nowadays, the site is an important tourist attraction and the subject of archaeological studies. It was inscribed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1987.

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