Ancient Mogao Grottoes to be Lightened Monday, October 6, 2008

Tourists to world-famous Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang, in northwestern China's Gansu Province, might see ancient paintings and statues on interior walls more clearly as the management plans to introduce modern lights into the caves.

The Dunhuang Academy have begun an experiment by installing lights in some caves including No. 16 and No. 148 to see if the ancient paintings and other cultural relics would suffer damages from lights.

Before the experiment, tourists could only see the paintings with flashlights operated by tour guides.

If the results of the experiment proved to be positive, modern illumination will be installed next year in all the caves that were open to tourists, sources with the academy said.

The 1,600-year-old Mogao Grottoes, which became a World Heritage designation in 1987, have more than 2,000 colored sculptures and 45,000 square meters of frescoes.

The number of domestic and overseas tourists to the Dunhuang grottoes is estimated at 500,000 annually and continues to rise.

Early this year, China has approved a 36 million U.S. dollar protection scheme for the Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes, including construction of a digital display hall that can hold 800 visitors and facilities for consolidation, erosion prevention, security and visitor services.

Editor: Pliny Han