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Originally Dunhuang's name, which means "blazing beacon", referred to the military outpost and series of beacon towers built there to watch over the critical trade junction. But each year, as cave after cave was carved, sculpted and painted, the oasis became a major pilgrimage site; a beacon to the faithful from all across the continent.
But it is not because of the caves' age that thousands of pilgrims and tourists still brave the difficult journey in brutal desert heat. Just like the dusty pilgrims of a thousand years ago, they come to witness the power of devotion and faith to create beauty. They come to experience the power of beauty to create devotion.