Master Plan for the Conservation and Management of Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang (2003-2005)
As the largest grotto temple site preserved in China and a well preserved Buddhist artistic sites with the longest history in the world, the Mogao Grottoes are representatives of the best Buddhist art during the 4th century and the 14th century. Mogao Grottoes were in the first group of “historical and cultural heritage sites placed under special state protection” proclaimed by the State Council in 1961. In 1987 it was put into the list of World Heritage of UNESCO.
This project is the first one in which we cooperate with Dunhuang Academy and international research groups: the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) in the US and the Australian Heritage Commission.
The innovation of this project lies in the following aspects:
The master plan for the conservation of cultural heritage in the form of grottoes is made with the application of diverse disciplines and technology. Following the international concepts in cultural heritage protection, focusing on the characteristics of cultural heritage protection in China, and adopting diverse disciplines and technology, the plan made innovations in the grottoes appraisal criteria and system, system of protection plan and strategy, measures and plans of protection, etc, and set up a system for making general plans of grotto protection.
Innovations in the cultural heritage appraisal system: A system with three major parts: the cultural heritage itself, the environment of the cultural heritage and the movable cultural relics, is built to analyze the components of cultural heritage. This system extended the scope of protection and put the concept of “integrated” protection into practice. The plan established two appraisal systems – “appraisal of the current conservation” for the appraisal of conservation of cultural relics and “integrated appraisal” for the appraisal of human interference, set related criteria and quantified the results of appraisal, therefore, it elevated the technical content in the integrated appraisal on the conservation plans of cultural heritage and formed scientific foundation for the designing of plans.
Innovations in the system of plans and strategies for protection: Based on the appraisal systems, the contents of plans and strategies were worked out and four sub-systems of strategy: protection, utilization, management and research were established. These innovations increased the effectiveness of cultural resource protection and the maneuverability of the plans.
Innovations in the strategy of protection: A “environmental protection region” was set in the scope of the protected region so that the integrated protection of cultural heritage can be in line with the development of local society and economy. This made the protection plan farsighted and maneuverable. Composite divisions with the functions of protection, utilization and management were set according to the characteristics in the protection of cultural heritage. Systematic strategies and measures of utilizing the cultural heritage were written for the first time in the plan to guide and regulate the utilization of cultural heritage and tourist management and coordinate the protection and utilization of cultural heritage.
Since this project not only had high value of innovation and exemplary value in the technique of grotto relics protection but also introduced international standard of world cultural heritage protection and management to the protection of cultural heritage in China, it was then used as an example in the popularization of “Regulation of Cultural Relics Protection in China”.