On the outskirts of Turpan in the Xinjang Uyghur Autonomous Region, are the Bezeklik Cave Temples. In Uyghur, Bezeklik means "where the paintings are." The interior of the temples used to be adorned with spectacular wall paintings. However, what research expeditions by various countries to research Bezeklik in the beginning of the 20th century found were that the temples were ravaged and were almost completely destroyed. The expeditions from various countries quickly realized the highly artistic and religious aspects of the wall paintings and decided to preserve them in their own countries. As a result, these important cultural assets were all removed from their original locations.
What did the wall painting look like originally? It is said that that the Bezeklik Cave Temples originated around the 6th century. Most of the cave temples that remain today date back to the West Uyghur Kingdom around the 10th to 13th centuries. Out of these, the wall painting in the corridors built around the 11th century are particularly characteristic of the tradition and they can be said as being the apex of Uyghur Buddhist art.
Led by Yoshihiro Okada (Professor, Faculty of Science and Technology) from the Digital Archives Research Center established in 2001, Ryukoku University has been involved, along with NHK, in the digital recreation of the religious wall paintings that were depicted in the Number 15 Cave (German Expedition Number 4 Cave) of the Bezeklik Cave Temples. The visuals that were completed after approximately 1 and a half years were shown in "Turpan - The blazing colossal art gallery", the second episode of NHK's New Silk Road series.
This exhibit displays the corridors of the Number 15 Cave in their actual sizes. The recreated large corridor is approximately 3.5m high and approximately 15m long. The sideways U shape of the actual corridor has been made into an L shape and there are 9 extremely large Buddhist wall paintings, each approximately 3m high. By encountering the Buddhist wall paintings that appear vividly in the soft lighting, you can enjoy an experience similar to that of actually entering the Bezeklik Cave Temples.