In 1937, at the start of the Sino-Japanese War (1937–45), Xie moved to Chongqing to escape the Japanese occupation. There, he became a close friend of the painter Zhang Daqian (Chang Ta-ch'ien, 1899–1983), through whom he was introduced to the Buddhist cave murals of Dunhuang, in northwest China. From the autumn of 1942 to the following September, Xie spent nearly a year in this Silk Road oasis, studying the wall paintings in the more than four hundred Buddhist cave temples that were built there between the fifth and fourteenth century. Neither Xie nor Zhang brought cameras to document the murals; instead, they painted life-size reproductions. The careful tracings exhibited here were taken directly from the original images.