3D Cave Art Revealed at NYU

Left Hand of Maitreya, Buddha of the Future, Holding the Looped End of His Robe
Xiangtangshan: Northern Group of Caves, North Cave, south face altar of central pillar, 550-559 ce., limestone. Source:
Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, Transfer from the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco

Left Hand of Maitreya, Buddha of the Future, Holding the Looped End of His Robe
Xiangtangshan: Northern Group of Caves, North Cave, south face altar of central pillar, 550-559 ce., limestone. Source:
Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, Transfer from the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco

The exhibition closing today on 84th Street isn’t about Herzog’s 12,000-year old French cave art, but about truly monumental art that has been largely unknown in the West until the University of Chicago unveiled a truly spectacular achievement – the digital recreation of a Sixth Century Buddhist cave temple destroyed in the 20th century by vandals selling to the international Asian art market.

Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cable Temples of Xiangtangshan was brought here by NYU’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World after the show’s run at the Sackler in Washington.

The story of this cave temple’s recreation began when the University of Chicago started asking what happened to all the stuff from the vandalized cave temples that were originally built as hostels for wandering Buddhist monks in the Fourth Century in Northern China along the old East-West trade routes. UC ultimately identified about 100 statue fragments in museums and collections all over the world.

Take a look at the cave temples today and the techniques used by the University to bring an amazing collection back together in virtual reality:

At NYU, you first immerse yourself in the Digital Cave and then enter the elegant gallery to see the works themselves – holy men, heads and hands of Bodhisattvas, and little monsters all gathered from collections from Penn, the Met, the V&A, the Nelson-Atkins of Kansas City, and the Asia Art Museum of San Francisco. Check out the highlights on line.

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