The Diamond Sutra, World’s Oldest Dated Complete Printed Book, on Exhibit in LA

Opening tomorrow at the Getty Research Institute galleries in Los Angeles is a major exhibit, Cave Temples Of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art On China’s Silk Road. Organized in collaboration with the Dunhuang Academy and the Dunhuang Foundation, the show will feature rare objects found at the famous Mogao cave site and full-scale replicas of three cave temples. The Magao caves, along the ancient Silk Road, date from the 4th to 14th centuries. The items on exhibit, including 43 manuscripts, paintings on silk, embroideries, sketches, and ritual diagrams, have traveled from museums and libraries around the world.

Diamond Sutra.jpgOne exhibit highlight, especially for readers of this blog, is the Diamond Sutra, the world’s oldest dated complete printed book, according to The Getty. The Diamond Sutra is a sacred Mahayana Buddhist text that dates to the year 868 CE. It was unearthed in Cave 17, also known as the Library Cave, where some 40,000 objects, sealed up for a millennium, were discovered in the early twentieth century. The book is on loan from the British Library for a rare stateside visit.

Susan Whitfield, the director of the International Dunhuang Project, will present a related lecture, The Diamond Sutra: A Story of Printing, Piety, and Preservation on the Silk Road, on June 5. The exhibit will remain up through September 4.

Image: Diamond Sutra, 868 CE, ink on paper. London, British Library, Or.8210/P.2. Copyright © The British Library Board.

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