The Heavenly Dragon Mountain or Tianlongshan is located in the Shanxi province of China. In the sixth century, Buddhist monks constructed sculptures and carvings of the Buddha, bodhisattvas, and sacred imagery in these caves. In the 1920s, the first photographic evidence of the caves was published to the world, of the finest art in Chinese history.
These photographs caught the attention of art collectors and curators who plundered the caves. They strip off all the sculptures from the walls of the caves and took it away. These sculptures are now displayed in museums all around the globe.
Some time back, the Center for the Art of East Asia at the University of Chicago decided to restore the carvings and sculptures. The Tianlongshan Caves Project has enabled the restoration of many sculptures, but since most of these precious pieces are scattered all over the world, it is not possible to group them together physically.
But 3D scanning has simplified this task too. High-resolution scans are being carried out by researchers to reconstruct the fragmented pieces.
The University o f Chicago Center in Beijing has put up the restored sculptures for display.
The 3D processes are being commenced with the Artec 3D printer. Artec 3D‘s handheld Spider and Eva scanners – Eva for the larger statues, and the higher-resolution Spider for the smaller sculptures and fragments. Artec has participated in a number of initiatives to digitally preserve ancient Greek artifacts, religious items from Eastern Orthodox cathedrals, and more. The 3D models of the Buddhist sculptures were constructed in the Artec Studio Software and the final conversion, alignment, and color correction carried out in MeshLab and Photoshop.
A lot of reconstruction work has been done, and more needs to be completed with the help of 3D printing and scanning.