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China's Digital Dunhuang Website Launched
By logging onto http://idp.nlc.gov.cn, the Chinese digital Dunhuang website that officially opened Monday, Chinese viewers can scan the huge collections of ancient Buddhist Dunhuang documents held by the National Library of China (NLC) and the British Library (BL).

The Dunhuang Library Cave in northwest China was accidentally found by a Taoist priest when he was clearing sand from the No.16 grotto on June 22, 1900. The cave, sealed for 850 years, holds more than 50,000 relics dating from the 4th to 11th centuries.

However, these documents became scattered around the world. The NLC has collected over 16,000 pieces and the BL more than 13,000.

Ren Jiyu, director of the National Library of China, said the situation had been "very inconvenient for Dunhuang research."

"To make Dunhuang documents accessible to scholars and let many more people know about Dunhuang as well as share these treasured resources and promote the development of Dunhuangology, in March 2001 the NLC and BL signed an agreement to collaborate on the International Dunhuang Project (IDP) to present images of Dunhuang documents and information on scholars and their researches on the website," he said.

Nearly 10,000 titles of digitalized Dunhuang documents, and more than 50 actual documents and 300 images are available on the Chinese website. The two libraries plan to post all their Dunhuang collections on the website.

The IDP English website was opened in 1998 and more than 10,000 images are now accessible.

Archaeologists say that the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang are the most complete repository of Buddhist art in the world. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) listed it on the World Heritage List in 1987.

(Xinhua News Agency November 11, 2002)

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