History Resource Cupboard – lessons and resources for schools

History Resource Cupboard - lessons and resources for schools

4. What can paintings from the Mogao caves tell us about life under the Tang Dynasty?

This is the second lesson in the unit on Tang Dynasty China, and moves away from the broad-angled view of the first lesson to ‘zoom in’ on some of the artworks created during the period.

Students study a number of paintings that were discovered in the Mogao Caves of northwest China, and they are guided through a close ‘art historical’ analysis of these artworks.

They use a de-coding sheet to help them identify some of the symbols contained within the paintings, before making inferences about the messages that the original artists (no doubt sponsored by the Tang emperors) intended to get across.

Finally, students are asked to imagine that the artworks have been ‘repatriated’ from their current home in the British Museum, and are to be displayed in the Mogao Caves once again.

Students must use their new knowledge to write plaques, outlining the key themes and messages conveyed by the artworks. All in all, the lesson aims to empower students as careful analysts of contemporary sources, and to help them appreciate the sophistication of the cultural products created under the Tang Dynasty.

Download lesson

  • Lesson presentation: PowerPoint
  • Lesson write-up: PDF
  • Worksheet1 & 2: PDF
  • Resource 1-5: PDF

Price: £12.99


Add to basketMembers’ Download


History Resource Cupboard


Receive details of our latest courses, new lesson downloads, exclusive discounts and the latest articles with ideas to help you enliven your classroom teaching.