A three-part epic tells of the rise, fall, and rebirth of the great civilization Dunhuang through the act of hiding treasures, hunting for treasures, and protecting treasures during three key periods in the Chinese history: The Northern Song Dynasty, the end of Qing Dynasty, and finally, the Republic.
Chapter One: Northern Song
Xixia King always had his eyes on Dunhuang, and he finally found a way to overtake this oasis. Since Song had no available manpower to defend Xixia invasion from the west, they sent Fang Tian You with a gold-carved Buddhist script to remind the King that Dunhuang was a Buddhist holy land and an invasion would a sacrilege. The tactic failed. As a final stand, the monks who guarded Dunhuang buried the Buddhist relics and themselves in the caves.
Chapter Two: Qing
Foreigners came to Dunhuang in search of buried treasures. They robbed Dunhuang of its ancient paintings, carvings, and relics. The disheartened Qin Wen Yu turned to the local thugs to help stop the export of ancient artifacts. The Chinese authority, instead of stopping the foreigners from taking the artifacts, prosecuted the people who tried to stop the foreigners.
Final Chapter: Republic
A year before the outbreak of World War II and Japanese invasion, Liang Mu Tian and his wife, Su Qing Ping, came to Dunhuang in search of artistic inspirations. To their horror, the once majestic city had turned into a sad ruin left behind by a century of grave robbing. These two artists became ardent Dunhuang advocates. They roused the local people to protect and rebuild their ancient city.
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