Serindia Publications
PO Box 10335
Chicago, IL  60610-0335


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  Size:   267 x 381 mm
10.5 x 15 in
  Volumes:   3  
  Pages:   1066  
  Binding:   Hardcover & Slipcased  
  Published:   January 1996  
  ISBN:   0-906026-40-7  



The Arts of Central Asia: The Pelliot Collection in the Musée Guimet
Edited by Jacques Giès
Contributing authors: Terukazu Akiyama, Jean-Pierre Drège, Danielle Eliasberg, Jacques Giès, Paul Magnin, Keiko Omoto, Krishna Riboud, Jean-Paul Rioux, Michael Soymié and Richard Schneider
Translated by Roderick Whitfield

Companion to the previously published The Art of Central Asia: The Stein Collection in the British Museum by Roderick Whitfield, these volumes (Les Arts de L'Asie Centrale published by the Réunion des Muées Nationaux) now present the entire collection of Central Asian art recovered during the travels of the great French explorer and scholar Paul Pelliot (1878-1945). Most of the collection's paintings, sculptures and textiles come from walled-up rock chapel in of the "Caves of the Thousand Buddhas" at Dunhuang, the greatest and most extensive of Central Asia's rock complexes at the edge of the Taklamakan desert in Gansu Province, China. Dating from the early eighth to the eleventh centuries, they had been concealed for almost a millennium.

Paul Pelliot's revelation in 1908 of this vast hoard of paintings and upwards of 40,000 ancient manuscripts, created a new field of learning which provided the basis and inspiration, together with Sir Aurel Stein's discoveries, for studies embracing Buddhism, art, literature, and social and economic history. Some 230 paintings on silk, cotton and hemp cloth, and 50 sculptures were acquired by the Musée Guimet, of which two exceptionally beautiful and interesting painting based on the Avatamsaka-sutra were only recently discovered in the reserve collection, and are now published for the first time.

The fascinating story of Pelliot expedition, together with a survey of his great scholarly achievements, is recounted in an introductory essay by Jacque Giès, the present curator of the Paul Pelliot Collection, who also provides a detailed analysis of the pictorial language of Dunhuang. A description of Pelliot's other excavations and discoveries in Central Asia (in the regions of Tumshuq, Kucha, Duldur-Aqur, Kyzyl-Qargha, Subashi and other sites) places the objects recovered in their historical context.

The silks recovered by Pelliot from Dunhuang – sutra wrappers and banner tops which were the precious offerings of pilgrims and Buddhist donors – are described by Krishna Riboud who presents a detailed analysis of the principle textile techniques found in the Pelliot Collection.

Each painting and object is fully described in separate essays by leading specialists, which are translated into English in the supplementary volume by Prof. Roderick Whitefield. The essential unity of all the material found at Dunhuang in the past century, and now scattered between many institutions and museums throughout the world, is emphasized. The color plates provide sumptuous color details of each painting so that they may be fully appreciated. This luxurious publication may be valued not only by specialist art historians, but by all lovers of fine traditional art.