May 8, 2013 Ertai Gao to Discuss Chinese Literature and the Popularization Of Ancient Buddhist Works Found in Dunhuang

Press Contact: Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022
Public Contact: Yuwu Song (202) 707-3683

In 1900, an important collection of more than 50,000 documents was discovered in Dunhuang, in the Chinese province of Gansu. The manuscripts date from the fifth century until the early 11th century, when the “Library Cave” was sealed. The manuscripts—in more than 15 different scripts and languages—were dispersed all over the world in the aftermath of the discovery. More than a century later, 22 institutions in 12 countries are collaborating to reconstitute the Library Cave manuscripts digitally.

At noon on Friday, May 24, Chinese aestheticist, artist, poet and philosopher Ertai Gao will come to the Library of Congress to discuss the Dunhuang works and the effort to popularize the Buddhist themes in these documents among today’s audiences. He will also talk about his views on Chinese literature. The program, which is sponsored by the Library’s Asian Division, will be held in Room 119 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, located at 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public; registration is not required. The speaker will deliver his remarks in Chinese, accompanied by U.S. State Department translators Chen I-Chuan and Tan Jiadong. Works by Gao will be on display in the Asian Division Reading Room (Room 150) during the event.

Before immigrating to the U.S. in the early 1990s, Gao taught aesthetics and philosophy at Lanzhou University, Sichuan Normal University, Nankai University and Nanking University. He also did research work at the Dunhuang Institute of Cultural Relics and the Institute of Philosophy of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He received awards from the People’s Republic of China State Science and Technology Commission and the Beijing Institute of Contemporary Chinese in 1986 and 2007 respectively.

Gao has written numerous influential publications, including “On Beauty” (1956), a treatise on the subjectivity of aesthetics. In direct opposition to government policy, the book resulted in Gao’s sentence to a Chinese labor camp—the first of three such convictions for subversive thought. His later book, “In Search of My Homeland,” is widely acclaimed as a monumental work that records his labor camp experiences.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs, publications and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at

The Asian Division at the Library of Congress holds more than 2.8 million books, periodicals, newspapers, electronic media and a large number of manuscripts from Asia. The collection is the most comprehensive source of Asian language materials outside of Asia, and covers the area ranging from the South Asian subcontinent and Southeast Asia to China, Japan, Korea, and Mongolia. For more information, visit


PR 13-088
ISSN 0731-3527