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This Book comprising the essays of Professor Duan Wenjie on Dunhuang art cherishes a strong desire to popularize information about the unique art treasure of Dunhuang among the English language readers both in India and abroad. This desire was first conceived by Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan during her visit to Dunhuang in 1990. There is the Chinese saying that while drinking water from the well we should not forget those who have dug it. That is how this volume owes to Dr. Vatsyayan who has guided the process of production of this volume and rendered enormous help to its fruition.

This volume is the maiden work of the Cell of Sino-Indian Studies (now renamed as East Asian Studies Programme) of Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA). It is the result of collective labour. Initially, I had the help of three young scholars: Miss Sonu Agnihotri, Mrs. Bagyalakshmi and Dr. (Miss) Rimli Bhattacharya. Sonu and Bagyalakshmi had spent the best part of a year familiarizing themselves with the subject and with the technical terminology of art and religion involved in translating Professor Duan Wenjie's articles into English. While it was an uphill task for them, they also learnt very fast. I appreciate their contributions, particularly their tolerance for my constant interventions. Translation is no easy task and translation involving classical Chinese is doubly difficult. Hence the teamwork has meant my close examination of their drafts and forcing them to accept what I consider better versions of the translation. Rimli has helped in editing the English drafts. Another Buddhist scholar, Miss Radha Banerjee, who joined our Cell a little later was of great help not only for consultations on the subject but also in the logistics of production work in bringing out the volume. Another research assistant of the Cell, Ms. Nidhi Nagpal, has contributed in the making of the Glossary of our volume. Bagya, Nidhi and Mr. Deepak, who is a late comer in the Cell, jointly contributed their efforts in supplementing the details for the final version of the manuscript. Also attached to the Cell were two researchers from the Dunhuang Academy, Mr. Li Chongfeng and Mr. Yang Fuxue, who also contributed to the undertaking. I take this opportunity to thank them all.

It would have been virtually impossible to bring out the book without the cooperation of the Dunhuang Academy, especially its Director, Professor Duan Wenjie. We would have gathered more information and learnt more about Professor Duan had we had more time and contacts with him. Professor Duan is an extremely busy man to contact. Moreover, his personal modesty virtually blocked all our efforts in gathering greater details of his life and work beyond what have already been published.

IGNCA is a fine institution. In the first place, it provides the right environment for Sino-Indian studies which are oriented to the holistic approach in respect of cultural perspective. Secondly, the research resources and infrastructural facilities of this institution have provided the surest guarantee for our venture to be brought out in a relatively short time. All the colleagues of IGNCA who have helped us in this regard deserve our gratitude.

Here, I particularly wish to thank the computer operators Mr. Alfred Joy and Miss Neelima Sareen. While we have all worked on successive drafts of the essays in this book, these drafts have finally been processed through the memory of the personal computer. The present version of this book has journeyed through numerous drafts: Miss Santosh Phul, the former, and Miss Rajni Bala, the present Stenographer of the Cell had their share of the collective toil in feeding our original and revised ideas onto the computer, and the electronic typewriter of IGNCA. My sincere thanks are also due to both of them.

Mr. Vineet Kumar, who has the rare distinction of an Indian painter with mastery of Chinese painting styles, has done a wonderful job in doing the art designing and the sketches of the book. His work has helped beautify our volume. I extend my gratitude to him. I also wish to add a word of thanks to Ms. Zhao Meiru of the Chinese Embassy, New Delhi, for helping us to get the Chinese characters in the Glossary printed.

The book should have been brought out at least a year ago. My prolonged illness interrupted with the preparations for its publication. However, the publishers are helping us to make it in time to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Dunhuang Academy in the midst of an international gathering of Dunhuang experts who will meet at the Mogao caves in August, 1994. My thanks in advance to both IGNCA, its publisher, and to Abhinav Publications, its co-publisher, for such a happy augury.


 Tan Chung

New Delhi 

November, 1993

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1994 Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi