In conjunction with the exhibition Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road, musicians from the Silk Road Ensemble are in residence at the Getty to create pop-up musical performances inspired by the art and replica caves on view.

In this video filmed inside Dunhuang replica Cave 285, musician and composer Kayhan Kalhor plays the kamancheh (long-necked fiddle) and reflects on the parallel spiritual concepts he sees depicted in the caves and in the religions of Persia.

More to Explore

Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road exhibition information

Silk Road Ensemble Interprets Dunhuang through Spontaneous Live Music Iris article

Silk Road Ensemble musician and instrument profiles

Art, History, and Conservation of the Cave Temples of Dunhuang video

Virtual Tour of Cave 285, Mogao Grottoes

Transcript

[Kamancheh music plays throughout]

Kayhan Kalhor: I think this room appealed to me more than the others in a way because of the relationship of the three worlds that is depicted here.

[Kamancheh music continues]

The underworld, the present, and the spiritual world, and then where we live and work on ourselves and bodies, our minds to elevate our spirituality to another world, to heaven. So these three levels was really interesting because to make you think that this kind of idea, this thought, this relationship between all these different levels of being, being thought of even in ancient times.

And in a way, this is very important to my culture, the same kind of ideology in different religions that happened there, in Persia as well—Zoroastrianism, after that Islam. And then the same kind of vision, basically, that we believe in all these three worlds, but meanwhile, we’re living only in one, and try to make a better one for the future with what we do in this world, and how we live and how we try to make ourselves a better person, so we elevate ourselves in the future world.

[Kamancheh music plays till the end]

[Kamancheh music plays throughout]

Kayhan Kalhor: I think this room appealed to me more than the others in a way because of the relationship of the three worlds that is depicted here.

[Kamancheh music continues]

The underworld, the present, and the spiritual...

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