Painting the past

Updated: 2014-01-22 09:26

By Ma Lie and Lu Hongyan (China Daily)

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Painting the past

Yang Dongmiao reproduces the murals of the No 45 and No 220 grottoes of the Mogao Grottoes in Xi'an, Shaanxi province.

They selected the murals in the two caves because they are among the best representatives of the Tang Dynasty grotto murals. "The murals in the two caves well reflected the characteristics of that era and visitors to the replica murals can learn something about the history and enjoy the art. We duplicated the murals because the two grottoes were not open to the public," Yang says.

Yang developed an interest in murals when she was a young child. Her father, Yang Tongle, was an artist who worked in heritage management and research at the Mogao Grottoes for 20 years from 1951.

"My father brought back a large amount of research materials and sketch drawings of the murals in the Mogao Grottoes when he returned to Xi'an," Yang says. "I very much liked to read my father's mural manuscripts. It was like reading picture books when I was only 4 years old."

When she was 6, Yang's father started to teach her how to draw in the style of the murals.

In 1989, Yang entered the Xi'an Academy of Fine Arts to study murals and after her graduation in 1993, she was given a job in a government department in Xi'an. She soon left that job to join her father's painting studio as an assistant.

From her first day working in the studio, Yang was determined to learn the line drawing techniques and calligraphy style of the Dunhuang murals.