In China, in the oasis cities of the Kuča a region on the northern Silk Road, you can find an impressive number of Buddhist wall paintings from the 5th to 8th centuries. These are now for the first time fully accessible, documented and scientifically evaluated. Staff members of the research project at the Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Leipzig record all the paintings of this region in a scientifically commented database. Fragments that are kept in museums and collections, as well as paintings that are only preserved in photographs, drawings or descriptions, are also included. The aim is to document the content of the paintings, their literary basis and, if necessary, their affiliation with Buddhist schools and to evaluate them in terms of cultural history. It also examines the influences of pictorial traditions from India, Iran, classical antiquity, and China.
Together with cooperation partners in various European countries, China, Japan and the USA, the Academy in Leipzig is building up the world’s largest centre for research into Kuča paintings. For the first time, Buddhist cave paintings in their entirety can be made accessible for religious, art, and cultural studies of Buddhism and its distribution in East Asia.
It is planned to set up a database system that will be used to process the material and publish the results: “Database of the Kucha Paintings” and “Encyclopaedia of Pictorial Elements of the Kucha Paintings”. In addition, all secondary literature is digitally processed in the Western languages as well as in Chinese and Japanese.