Buddhist monks create magnificent sand art in Maplewood

-9898f5c03d15e097Buddhist monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery in Tibet create a magnificent work of mandala sand art inside the Great Hall at the Woodland in Maplewood. Friday, August 14, 2015 (Patti Sapone | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)

Buddhist statues of Hakuho culture: Exhibition shows now youthful vigor, beautiful expressions signified new era

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 12.34.32 AM6:12 am, August 08, 2015
The Yomiuri Shimbun

NARA — A special exhibition featuring a large number of precious Buddhist statues, sculptures, other works of art and archaeological artifacts dating back to the Hakuho period — from around 645 to 710 — is being held at the Nara National Museum in Nara.

The exhibition, titled “Hakuho: The First Full Flowering of Buddhist Art in Japan,” celebrates the 120th anniversary of the museum and displays about 150 works, including many national treasures and important cultural properties.

The event revisits the flourishing Hakuho culture of the period, which is represented by Buddhist statues with youthful freshness and adorable facial expressions.

“Hakuho” is an unofficial period name often used in art history and archaeology. It covers a period of about 60 years from around 645, when the Taika Reforms took place, up to 710, when the capital was moved to Heijokyo in what is now Nara.

Around that time, Fujiwarakyo was constructed as the first full-fledged capital, enacting the Taiho legal code and minting Fuhonsen coins. Thus, the Hakuho period produced a kind of state that led to the current Japan. Continue reading

In the galleries: Out of nothingness — art

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 11.47.34 AMWashington Post
By Mark Jenkins August 14 at 12:28 PM

Chinese artist Bada Shanren lived a life of three distinct phases, separated by two apparently violent ruptures. He was born a prince around 1626, but lost that status — and his birth name, Zhu Da — when the Ming Dynasty forfeited power in 1644. He spent about 30 years as a priest of Chan Buddhism, better known in the West by its Japanese name, Zen. Then he reportedly suffered a nervous breakdown, sometime in the late 1670s, only to reemerge as a professional artist with no evident religious outlook.

Actually, his outlook is hard to fathom, which is why the Freer Gallery of Art titled its current survey of 43 ink paintings and calligraphic scrolls “Enigmas: The Art of Bada Shanren (1626-1705).” The painter was something of a trickster, which Stephen Allee, associate curator for Chinese painting and calligraphy at the museum, attributes to his Zen training.

Allee notes that Bada Shanren, a pseudonym the artist seemingly didn’t begin using until the 1680s, “is a specifically Buddhist name,” yet his later art has “no Buddhist content at all.”

To be properly confused by Bada’s work, it may help to be able to read Chinese. The monk-artist’s poetry is more arcane than his painting, Allee explains, and some of the most bewildering examples of Bada’s playfulness stem from text he added to his pictures. One unusual item in the Freer show is a lilac painted in opaque color rather than the translucent black more common in classical Chinese art. It’s identified by Bada as being in the style of an earlier artist, Lu Zhi. But it isn’t. Continue reading

Amaravati is ours

Some of the artefacts on display at the London Museum. —Photo: By Arrangement

Some of the artefacts on display at the London Museum. —Photo: By Arrangement

The Hindu
August 14, 2015 10:54 IST

The Andhra Pradesh government’s plan to attract world tourists to Amaravati, the new capital area, by showcasing its robust Buddhist heritage has sparked hope, setting off a clamour among various sections to bring back its treasured artefacts, currently on display at a gallery in London Museum.

Josephe Hotung Gallery in the British Museum displays masterpieces of Buddhist sculptures from Amaravati.

A stunning collection of over 120 pieces depicting the famed Amravati sculptures are on display after over three decades of oblivion in the basement of the museum. Excavated by the British almost 140 years ago, the sculptures were shipped to the U.K. from Madras in 1859.

‘Monastery Boulevard’

With the A.P. government spelling out its latest plan to set up a ‘Monastery Boulevard’ in Amaravati to enable Buddhists from across the world build monasteries on the lines of Bodh Gaya in Bihar, people here feel that it’s time Andhra Pradesh staked claim to the Amaravati relics that reflect its hoary past.

Veeranjaneyulu Jasti, chairman, Amaravati Development Authority, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has urged the Centre to do the needful to bring back the sculptures. He says half of the Hotung Gallery has been devoted to Chinese bronzes, jades, paintings, ceramics and Buddhist sculptures, while the second half has Amaravati structures which include “the greatest collection of Indian religious sculptures outside the sub-continent.” Continue reading

The reshaped Buddhist cosmos: A study of the iconography of the main chamber of Cave 45, Mogao Grottoes, Dunhuang by Tong, Meng, M.A., THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA, 2014, 112 pages

A recently completed dissertation:

The reshaped Buddhist cosmos: A study of the iconography of the main chamber of Cave 45, Mogao Grottoes, Dunhuang
by Tong, Meng, M.A., THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA, 2014, 112 pages; 1561378


This study examines the iconographic characteristics and transformations of Buddhist art manifested in the main chamber of Cave 45, one of the adorned cave temples at the famed Buddhist site of Mogao, Dunhuang, China.

Probably commissioned sometime between the late seventh and early eighth centuries, the original, Tang-period decorations of Cave 45 display an illusion of spectacular Buddhist paradises as conveyed in the Lotus Sutra. Pictorial and structural evidence found in the main shrine during my field research of the grotto, however, indicates that the initial ornament of this cave temple might have been left unfinished. Approximately a half-century later, work at Cave 45 resumed, as the oasis town of Dunhuang was taken over by the Tibetans in 781. Icons of beloved bodhisattvas, Guanyin and Dizang, were introduced into the cave at the request of new donors. These late additions modified the overall visual plan of the main shrine, in terms of its color scheme and Buddhist symbolism. The pairing of Guanyin and Dizang, in particular, suggests the two bodhisattvas’ increasingly popularity in the devotional life of post-Tang Dunhuang. The combined plan of the main shrine conveys a converted Buddhist worldview in which the heavenly Pure Lands coexist with the concerns of the earthly world and afterlife.

As an art-historical investigation of the main chamber of Cave 45, this research presents an explicit chronology of its devotional works of art. The speculation of the cave’s incomplete commission and renovations provides the reader with a glimpse of Buddhist art production and the devotional life in the context of a medieval oasis town along the overland travel roads.


Karmapa, Pema Chödrön endorse Buddhist art “caretaking” project

unnamedLion’s Roar

“Time is running out. Earthquake, fire, flood, armed conflict, and political upheaval threaten Buddhist sacred art in monasteries,” says the new website of Treasure Caretaker Training, a registered non-profit is dedicated to saving endangered sacred art.

Launched in 2014 by Ann Shaftel, an art conservator, the project trains “treasure caretakers” such as monks and nuns in techniques such as digital documentation of precious objects, video interviews of elders, risk assessment and disaster management.

The project works with monasteries, museums, and universities in India, Bhutan, Nepal, Europe, and North America to help protect Buddhist art such as paintings, statuary, costumes, instruments, and other sacred objects. Participants are also trained to use smartphones and tablets to interview elders.

“Elders hold the history of the object in the oral history tradition. If an elder dies and their story is not recorded, then the history of that object can be lost to future generations,” says Ann Shaftel, the Project Director. Continue reading

‘Spirituality’ to be theme of performances

The Pioneer

Spirituality would be the theme of the performances of national and international art forms at the ‘Sirpur International Dance and Music Festival 2016’ to be held in the ancient Buddhist archaeological site of Sirpur in Mahasamund district in January next year, officials stated.The programme to be held every day during the festival shall have at least two to three national and international art forms and at least one Chhattisgarh art form performance. The programme duration shall be of three hours or more every day.

Notably, Chhattisgarh’s ancient archaeological site of Sirpur has been now included in the three Buddhist Circuits identified by the Union Ministry of Tourism in the country.The circuits would be developed by the Central Government in partnership with the respective State Governments and private stakeholders. The ancient archaeological site of Sirpur in Chhattisgarh had been included in Circuit 3 titled ‘Buddhist Heritage Trails (State Circuits)’, officials stated.

Notably, it may be recalled that on February 19 this year, Chief Minister Raman Singh had announced that a `Special Area Development Authority` will be constituted for development of ancient Buddhist Archaeological site of Sirpur in Mahasamund district. About 35 villages around Sirpur would be included in the Authority which will be constituted under Section 64 of the Urban and Rural Investment Act 1973. The decision was taken in the meeting of State Cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Raman Singh.

After the meeting, the Chief Minister had informed that planned and systematic development of these 35 villages including Sirpur will be done. This will benefit about 9144 hectares area and 22000 people. This will also help in rapid development of all facilities in the area.