Achievements of the “Digital Supporters” Program of Tencent and Dunhuang Academy Made a Debut at Dunhuang Cultural Expo


On September 25th, the concert “Ancient Music Rebirth” kicked off with a melodious low-pitched sound from the Guzheng, a Chinese plucked zither, a prelude to a millennial Dunhuang music played with flute, a reed pipe wind instrument called “sheng”, a Chinese double reed wind instrument called “bili”, the Chinese lute, a Chinese plucked string instrument called “zhongruan”, and Zheng.

As a part of The 3rd Silk Road (Dunhuang) International Cultural Expo, the concert was jointly held by Tencent, QQ Music, Dunhuang Academy, and Shanghai Conservatory of Music. At the concert, the “digital supporters of Dunhuang” composed of music stars, including Gong Linna, Shang Wenjie and pop duo Good Meimei, and music composers—winners in the contest on “New Composition of Ancient Dunhuang Music”, performed the original music with inspirations from Dunhuang culture.

From right to left are Deputy Party Secretary and Deputy Director Wang Rui of Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Party Secretary and Director Wang Xudong of Dunhuang Academy, General Manager Li Hang for Tencent’s marketing and public relations, and Marketing Director Sun Bao of QQ Music.  

The concept of “digital supporter” originated from the “supporters” of the Mogao Grottos at Dunhuang. More than 1,650 years ago, some people along the Silk Road funded the establishment of these caves to seek for protection and guidance. These people were known as “supporters of the Mogao Grottos”. In June this year, Tencent and Dunhuang Academy launched the program of “Digital Supporters of Dunhuang”. The users could click on the creative videos on the H5 pages on their mobile phones and have the chance to obtain the “smart tips”. These tips are based on annotations to some parts of the selected 30-plus murals in combination with the familiar life scenes and languages in modern times. For every “smart tip” the users win, RMB 0.9 would be donated for the digital preservation of the Mogao Grottos. The program attracted over millions of users within two hours after its launch online. As we’re now in a digital age, Tencent and Dunhuang Academy hope to carry forward the a-thousand-year tradition of “Dunhuang supporters”, called for the attention of the public, especially the young generation, to preserve the cultural heritage and protect the Dunhuang for the next millennium, by means of Internet charity and digital creativities in games, music, comics and creative ideas.

The cultural expo also features the “Decoding Dunhuang—Digital Silk Road Cultural Exhibition” jointly launched by Tencent and Dunhuang Academy. It displayed the achievements of the “digital supporter” program, covering a large number of cooperation projects between Dunhuang Academy and Tencent’s subsidiaries, including Tencent Games, Music, Map, in-depth cooperation between the two sides, and presenting diverse approaches and new possibilities in supporting the Dunhuang culture.  

Tencent’s “King of Glory” displayed its new visual effects package featuring the flying Apsaras in the Dunhuang Grotto murals, which was designed together with Dunhuang Academy, integrating the elements of the Dunhuang culture in the concept of creation, colors, hairstyles, makeup, costumes, and even musical instruments. In an attempt to reproduce as authentic as possible the images of flying Apsaras during the Sui and Tang dynasties depicted in the Dunhuang Grotto muruals, the visual effects showcases the artistic beauty of the Dunhuang culture, in the hope of enlisting the players in the “digital supporter” program for the digital preservation of the murals at Mogo Grottos. In the forms of WeChat applets, offline interactive devices, and others, “The Exploration of Traditional Games in Dunhuang” reproduced the traditional games portrayed in the millennial murals through digitalization.

The Dunhuang Academy, QQ Music and Shanghai Conservatory of Music jointly initiated the contest on “New Composition of Ancient Dunhuang Music” to collect outstanding music created by the young generation on the basis of the Dunhuang cultural elements. Tencent Map developed a smart navigation map of the Mogo Grottoes, providing visitors with services of hand-painted map, recommended routes, search for facilities, among others, through mini-programs. It helps visitors fully explore the grottos and other attractions, while acquiring a better understanding of the Dunhuang culture. Tencent “Digital Global Museum” applies the image recognition technology to better interpret the knowledge about the grottos and murals in combination with the digital achievements of the Dunhuang Academy.

It’s reported that the “digital supporter” program jointly developed by Tencent and the Dunhuang Academy will yield more achievements. At the end of this year, Tencent Comics plans to cooperate with the Dunhuang Academy to rearrange the “Sutra illustration” into comics, so as to tell the stories of the “Sutra illustration” in the form of comic strips. On the basis of the caisson art in the Dunhuang murals, Tencent Neo-Culture Creativity will call for users to design creative silk scarves though online interaction, bringing the Dunhuang art of the greatest cultural and historical values to the public in a brand new form.

The booming Internet technology and the new trend in digital culture and creativity have opened up new possibilities to reinvigorate the traditional culture. On December 29, 2017, Tencent and Dunhuang Academy entered into the strategic cooperation. As an Internet-based technology and culture company, Tencent has adhered to the neo-culture creativity strategy to integrate various products and services and developed a package of solutions for digital preservation of cultural heritage. Neo-culture creativity strategy proposed by Tencent in April is a cultural production means with IP construction at the core and for the purpose of developing more Chinese cultural symbols boasting wide popularity. Dunhuang Academy will focus on its research results to conduct innovative explorations and cooperation on digital preservation of cultural heritage, in a bid to further expand the global influence of the culture of Dunhuang Mogo Grottos. The “digital supporter” program proposed by the two sides is a brand new attempt. Under the premise of respecting the cultural heritage, it aims to explore, interpret and recreate the cultural information, more actively protect the outstanding cultural heritage, and thus pass on more spiritual and cultural values.