Restoration and Reconstruction of Cave Sites

A Talk by Jiao Lin and Liu Tao

Time: 14:00-14:30, December 10 (guided tour)

15:00-17:00, December 10 (talk)

Venue: OCAT Institute



As most grotto temple sites in China were looted and damaged, scholars are beginning to pay more attention to historical photographs taken by expeditionists, sinologists and Japanese scholars, line drawings and unpublished archives since the late 19th and early 20th century. On the one hand, art historians rely on these materials for having preserved the rare original appearance of the grottos, statues and murals, which also provide pictorial references to other disciplines. In addition, they also serve as reliable proofs for the preservation, digital restoration and tracking down lost or dispersed cultural relics from the caves. On the other hand, these images carry the personal view point of their producers/makers. These ‘personal marked’ pictorial references enters historiography while quietly infiltrates the direction and methodology of research. Therefore, the historical images and archives demand attention and further study on their own.

This talk will start from the exhibition the Buddhist Cave Temples and Sculptures of Tianlongshan: Historical Photographs and New Imaging Technology, part two of the exhibition program Sites and Image: Two Research Projects of Oxford University and The University of Chicago at OCAT Institute. Dr. Lin Jiao from Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts and Dr. Liu Tao from Renmin University of China will be invited to perform a dialogue on the topic The Restoration and Reconstruction of Cave Sites. With their researches and experience, the two young scholars are going to explore the following four aspects respectively: 1)Why do caves need to be restored and reconstructed; 2) the twofold meaning of “reconstruction”; 3) how to restore and reconstruct; 4) the prospect of cave restoration and research. The two scholars will share images of rare historical photographs and case studies during the talk. Looking forward to your participation.



 Jiao Lin is a lecturer from Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts, and a postdoctoral researcher of the Academy of Arts & Design at,Tsinghua University. Jiao graduated from Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts with a Bachelor's degree in art history in 2008, finished her Master study at Shanghai University in 2011, and graduated from the Department of Humanity of Central Academy of Fine Arts with a Doctor degree in 2015. During her Master and Doctoral study, Jiao was also a visiting scholar of Ancient World Research Institute of New York University from 2012 to 2013, and a visiting researcher at Architecture and Art History of Harvard University from 2013 to 2014. Her doctoral dissertation The Study of Mural of Emperor and Empress Paying Homage to Buddha was awarded the Academic Publishing Fund for Young Chinese Scholars by SARFT, and selected to be published in China Academic Fine Works


Liu Tao was born in Tianjin in 1981. From 1999 to 2006, he studied at College of Liberal Art, Nankai University and got his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degree consecutively. In 2016, he graduated from the Fine Arts department of the Humanities School of Central Academy of Fine Arts with a Doctor’s degree. Presently, Liu is completing his postdoctoral research on Chinese religious art at School of Liberal Arts, Renmin University of China.

In 2015, Liu was invited by Museum für Asiatische Kunst Staatliche Museen zu Berlin to study the oversea collection of Buddhist relics from Xinjiang. So far, he has published more than twenty academic papers in journals such as Dunhuang Research, China Fine Art Research, New Arts, Journal of Nanjing Arts Institute : Fine Arts & Design and other academic seminar publications. His has published a monograph Research on Kucha Cave Murals in Tang and Uyghur Period.