A Buddhist Deity Returns to Boston

A wooden Guanyin deity, about 900 years old, will return to view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Credit Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

A wooden Guanyin deity, about 900 years old, will return to view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Credit Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

 

 

 

The New York Times
By EVE M. KAHN JAN. 28, 2016

A Buddhist deity sculpture, absent from the galleries at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, for 17 years, will go back on view there next month after undergoing analyses and treatments throughout its gilded surface.

This deity, Guanyin, which embodies compassion, was carved about 900 years ago from a tree trunk. Nearly six feet tall, the figure is seated in a casual pose, with its glass eyes facing downward and one leg dangling as though being dipped in a pool of water. The underlying legend is that the deity was gazing at a reflection of the moon in the water.

Abigail Hykin, a conservator at the museum, has stabilized its flaking paint and has supervised tests that revealed insects, nails, dowels, pins and patches embedded in the body and limbs. (Further testing is being done to determine the types of insects.) The sculpture will be displayed starting on Feb. 6. Only a handful of similar wooden Guanyins survive, including ones at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo.; the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam; and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

The Boston museum’s figure is from northern China, but there is no information about which temple it belonged to before it arrived at the institution in 1920. It was originally sold to the museum with two smaller deity statues that will be analyzed to see whether their wood type and gilded paint match the Guanyin.

Barely decipherable inscriptions on the surface suggest dates when worshipers paid to have the wood repainted. Nancy Berliner, the museum’s curator of Chinese art, said that patrons would have hoped to gain “good karma from redecorating a Guanyin.”

The figure wears a crown and is draped in tassels and beaded jewelry, and its pierced ears indicate that at one time it also wore earrings. A plastic jewel in its forehead, which was added in the 1950s, has been removed. This Guanyin radiates calm rather than vanity.

“The expression on the face is so compassionate,” Ms. Berliner said.

The Museum of Fine Arts will display the deity alongside the X-rays and other scans of its surface and interior that were taken during the analysis.

The Freer and Sackler Galleries in Washington are taking a similar scientific approach to displaying a sixth-century headless limestone Buddha; starting on Saturday, the figure will go on view alongside laser scans of its elaborately carved surfaces.

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Trove of Buddhist relics found in Midnapore

Deccan Herald
Kolkata:Jan 31, 2016, DHNS

The site, currently a buzz of activities, has led to the discovery of some 50 relics connected to Buddhism, which was widely practiced in eastern Indian between seventh and 12th Century. Reuters file photo for representation only

Fourteen years after archaeologists stumbled upon the nondescript mound at Moghalmari in West Midnapore district, the site has thrown up one of the largest finds of Buddhist history in India.

The site, currently a buzz of activities, has led to the discovery of some 50 relics connected to Buddhism, which was widely practiced in eastern Indian between seventh and 12th Century.

While archeologists from Calcutta University first came across this site in March 2001, the state archaeology department has since taken charge. On January 23 this year they came across around 40 bronze artifacts dating back to fifth and sixth century. Since then, diggers have come across more relics, with chances that digging deeper will lead to further finds.

In 2001, archaeologists first found the structural details of a monastery, an inscribed seal and a broken bust, believed to be of the Buddha. While Moghalmari village, around 180 km from Kolkata, became an important find in understanding history of Buddhism in India, particularly Bengal, the dig emerged a centre of attention since January 23, with archeologists believing the site will provide crucial insights in assessing and understanding spread of Buddhism to eastern India and eventually to other parts of Asia. Continue reading

16 Buddhist stupas found at Nateshwar

The site of the 1000-year-old Buddhist stupas discovered by archaeologists in Nateshwar in Munshiganj. Photo: Star

The site of the 1000-year-old Buddhist stupas discovered by archaeologists in Nateshwar in Munshiganj. Photo: Star

The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 31, 2016

Excavation on for 1,000-year-old site

Our Correspondent, Munshiganj
Sixteen Buddhist stupas, around 1,000-year-old, have recently been unearthed at Nateshwar in the district with a rich archaeological background.

The aesthetics of these stupas is unique in architectural style. There are 16 stupas in four inter-connected “Stupa Hall Rooms,” each square-shaped and fenced with brick walls 16 metres in length and 3.5 metres in width.

Evidence of this ancient civilisation came to light during an excavation jointly conducted by Bangladesh and China at Nateshwar Deul under Tongibari upazila.

Last year an around-1,300-year-old Buddhist city was unearthed on the eastern side of this site. Apart from Buddhist stupas, various structures including old roads and drains were found there.

Prof Sufi Mustafizur Rahman of Jahangirnagar University, also research director of the Excavation Project, and the director of Hunan Provincial Archaeological Institute of China expressed their high expectation that Nateshwar is going to be a part of World Heritage.

Nuh-ul-Alam Lenin, director of the Excavation Project, said Nateshwar, adjacent to Bajrajogini, the birthplace of Buddhist scholar Atish Dipankar, a holy place for the Buddhists, would become their second holy site.

He said the aesthetic structures would attract many tourists, adding, the archaeologists of China had expressed their interest to set up an “Archaeology Park” there. Besides, a museum with various facilities including research work, seminar halls and accommodation for tourists would be there. Continue reading

Seven ancient Buddhist caves found in Mumbai

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 12.03.41 AMTimes of India
Clara Lewis | TNN | Jan 17, 2016, 03.34 AM IST

One of the new caves, about an hour’s hike north-east from Kanheri. (TOI photo by Sandeep Takke)

MUMBAI: Seven caves have been discovered in the forests of the sprawling Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivli, on the northern fringes of the city. The caves are Buddhist ‘viharas’ (residences for monks) with only one of them showing the remains of a ‘harmika’ (the top railing of a stupa). They are believed to have been constructed before the Kanheri Caves nearby and probably served as a monsoon shelter for the monks.

While a formal approval from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is awaited for detailed exploration and documentation of the new caves, the team that has discovered the caves date them between 1st century BCE (or BC) and 5th-6th century CE (or AD). The discovery was made by a three-member team last February under an excavation programme jointly conducted by the Centre for Archaeology, Mumbai University, and the department of ancient Indian culture, Sathaye College, Vile Parle; the head of the department, Suraj Pandit, led the team.

“The newly discovered caves may have been older than the Kanheri Caves as they were simpler in form and they lacked water cisterns, which are found in the more evolved architecture of Kanheri. Moreover, we found monolithic tools which were prevalent in the 1st century BC. The absence of water cisterns also indicate that monks lived there in the monsoon,” said Pandit.

Pandit said the seven new caves were not an accidental discovery, but rather the result of a systematic survey of the area. Before beginning actual field work, the team carried out documentary research for three months, which included a study of the area’s topography and water resources as most viharas were constructed close to a water source. The Kanheri Caves, which date between 1st century BCE and 10th century CE, are famous for their water management and rain water harvesting systems. This helped to zero in on areas where they were most likely to find caves. The team also referred to Pali texts, which describe caves around Rajgir in Bihar, as viharas (residences) of Buddhist monks and expected to find similar viharas, either natural or man-made, around Kanheri. They also studied 150-year-old reports of the ASI to understand how to conduct the exploration. “The reports narrate the discovery of pot shreds and microlithic tools, and we decided to look for these,” said Pandit.
Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 12.04.13 AM

Continue reading

Moghalmari fest to bring ‘buried’ Buddhist vihara under limelight

Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey & Sujay KhanraJan 10, 2016, 11.45 PM IST

Kolkata: Buddhist monks from different corners of the country are set to converge on Buddhist monks from different corners of the country are set to converge on Moghalmari near Dantan in West Midnapur on January 24 to stake their claim on a newly excavated site, believed to be one of the oldest Buddhist viharas in India.near Dantan in West Midnapur on January 24 to stake their claim on a newly excavated site, believed to be one of the oldest Buddhist viharas in India.

What was written off as just a mound, which residents of the area believed to hide an ancient lore, has turned out to be a 5th century Buddhist site. The state archaeological department’s excavation has pushed the Raktamrittika Vihara at Karna Subarna in Murshidabad, dated 7th century, to the second position on the Buddhist religious map and calendar.

The Bauddha Dharmankur Sabha, headquartered in the city, has organised the two-day Moghalmari Buddhist Festival, which will see a rare congregation of monks at the site that dates back to the era of Raja Samachar Dev. This was the time when the Gupta dynasty had waned and local satraps had managed to shake off its suzerainty to declare their independence, Raja Samachar Dev being one of them. Most details of the pre-Pala age of Bengal is shrouded in mystery owing to lack of any historical evidence but now, scholars believe that the Moghalmari vihara excavation would help them piece together this past.
The excavation of the site, which had been put on a hold for nearly two years, will be taken up again from Monday. The state archaeology directorate had stopped the digging after archaeologists found coins and seals that had to be analysed to verify the site’s antiquity.

With the inscriptions on the seals finally ascertaining the fact that the vihara was founded and fucntioned during the 5th-6th centuries, if not earlier, the state government has decided to release funds for the new phase of excavation. Already, more than Rs 3 crore has been spent. Continue reading

CTB TO ORGANIZE 4TH ‘SIRPUR NATIONAL DANCE AND MUSIC FESTIVAL’

By T3 News Network , Jan 05, 2016

The Chhattisgarh government is set to organise the fourth edition of ‘Sirpur National Dance and Music Festival’, a cultural event dedicated to creating international cultural amity and brotherhood, during January 29-31, 2016. The upcoming festival will be organised on an international scale. The festival offers a first-hand experience of a rare union of art and culture in music and dance forms.

This event is organised every year in January by Chhattisgarh Tourism Board in order to promote Buddhist sites in Sirpur. The Buddhist cultural heritage has a long and special history that dates back to more than 2,500 years and unites most of South, South-East and East Asia. The influence of Buddhism can be seen across all Asian countries in terms of history and culture.

The extravaganza attracts renowned Indian and foreign artistes. A galaxy of national stars have added dazzle to the festival… Padmabhushan Pt. Chhannulal Mishra, Padmashri Madhavi Mudgal, Padmashri Prahlad Singh Tipaniya, Padma Vibhushan Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia, Padma Vibhushan Pt. Birju Maharaj, Shri Rahul Sharma, Ustad Shujaat Khan, Padmabhushan Smt. Teejanbai, Vidwan Vikku Vinayakram and Padmashri Wadali Brothers.

International artistes have equally enthralled audiences. Pete Lockett, George Brooks and Leonard Eto are some of the names that have featured here. The festival has also come as a big boon to local artistes who have literally been able to showcase their craft on an international stage. Continue reading

NPM Southern Branch launches trial operations

The golden screen of “Tibetan Dragon Sutra” is showcased for the first time as one of the highlights in the opening exhibitions of National Palace Museum Southern Branch Dec. 28 in Chiayi County. (Courtesy of NPMSB)

The golden screen of “Tibetan Dragon Sutra” is showcased for the first time as one of the highlights in the opening exhibitions of National Palace Museum Southern Branch Dec. 28 in Chiayi County. (Courtesy of NPMSB)

Taiwan Today
Publication Date: December 29, 2015

National Palace Museum Southern Branch began its trial period Dec. 28 in Chiayi County, marking a significant development in the government’s efforts to enhance art facilities in southern Taiwan.

During the ceremony, President Ma Ying-jeou praised the contributions made by all project participants, particularly the devotion of the construction workers who built the facility with speed and precision.

“This is the best gift for the NPM’s 90th anniversary,” Ma said. “The complex also enriches the local art scene while laying the foundation for the area’s cultural infrastructure in the future.”

Initiated 15 years ago, the 70-hectare museum is designed by acclaimed Taiwan architect Kris Yao, recipient of the 2014 Honorary Fellowship of the American Institute of Architects. The NT$10.93 billion (US$331 million) project comprises a main exhibition hall, an artificial lake and a landscape park.

In addition, a 141.74-meter-long bridge designed to resemble a rainbow provides the only access to the glass-and-steel building, which is equipped with the latest technology to protect the facility from droughts, earthquakes and floods. Continue reading