The Ruins of Kočo: Traces of Wooden Architecture from the Ancient Silk Road

07.09.2016 to 08.01.2017
Museum für Asiatische Kunst

More than 100 years after the return of the last Berlin researchers from Central Asia (1914), great discoveries are still being made among the finds of that time. Painted wooden beams, some inscribed with Buddhist texts, which Albert Grünwedel brought back with him in 1903, saving them from use as firewood, have now been identified as pieces of a ceiling and door construction. This discovery led members of the museum staff to Xinjiang, to the temple city of Kočo (Chinese: Gaochang) near Turfan, in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, China. There they searched for traces of wooden architecture and compared reports and photographs from the three Turfan expeditions with structures still visible at the location today. This project, funded by the Gerda Henkel Stiftung, has led to a new understanding of the monastery buildings, as is demonstrated in this exhibition.

The documentation of photographic material from yesterday and today and the accounts of researchers from 1902–1907 compared with contemporary observations afford rare glimpses into the work of modern scientists. The exhibition is also a preview of the Humboldt Forum: the unique objects that were found in the three buildings analyzed in Kočo will be shown in this exhibition and then in the Humboldt Forum in their new display context. Paintings, texts and sculptures that came to light in Buddhist and Manichaean monasteries, as well as architectural elements and everyday objects, can speak to us today in new ways.

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