The importance of Central Asia (also known as Serindia) was revealed in the early 20th century by archeological discoveries that brought to light the outstanding Buddhist heritage along the route of the Silk Road. Unique documents, including manuscripts and major cycles of Buddhist religious imagery, had been conserved thanks to the desert climate, favourable to the preservation of organic material. The Musée Guimet collection had its origin in three French archeological missions led successively by Dutreuil de Rhins (1890-1895), Paul Pelliot (1906-1909) and, most importantly, Joseph Hackin (1931-1932). The objects collected illustrate the art of the great Buddhist centres which developed at the caravan staging posts along the eastern route of the Silk Road. Clay sculptures from the religious complex at Toqquz-Saraï are represented by the bodhisattva head EO 1059, while the meditating Buddha EO 1107 attests the pictorial art that flourished at the Duldur-Akhur monastic complex in the Kuchean region. There are also two hundred and fifty paintings, including "The Subjugation of Mara" (MG 17655), from the "Manuscripts Cave" at Dunhuang.
The Musée Guimet collection offers a uniquely comprehensive display of Central Asian artworks.