Buddhist artefacts to go on display for Cambridge’s first Tibetan exhibition

Cambridge News
LIZZY BUCHAN
13 May 2014

X-ray of a Buddha kyamuni's statue in bronze (MAA, 1935.346).Tibet. 14th centuryPurchased by Louis C.G. Clarke.Courtesy of the Hamilton Kerr Institute and the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge.

X-ray of a Buddha kyamuni’s statue in bronze (MAA, 1935.346).Tibet. 14th centuryPurchased by Louis C.G. Clarke.Courtesy of the Hamilton Kerr Institute and the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge.

Some of the world’s oldest Buddhist manuscripts dating back to the eleventh century will go on display for the first time in Cambridge.

Historians, anthropologists, linguists, art historians, and scientists have contributed to ‘Buddha’s Word: The Life of Books in Tibet and Beyond’, which will go on show at Cambridge’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology from May 28.

Visitors will be able to follow the journey of Buddha’s words in three different spaces within the Li Ka Shing gallery of the museum.

First to greet visitors will be a Himalayan Buddhist Altar which demonstrates an exploration of the text as sacred object, as a relic of the Buddha.

Secondly, the Laboratory shows how Tibetan books are made and analysed, investigating the long history of printing in Tibet and the recent discoveries made by Cambridge scientists and scholars about the pigments used.

The final section is in the Library which traces the journeys taken by Buddha’s word from India, across Asia, to places such as Sri Lanka and Japan, Mongolia and Taiwan.

Dr Mark Elliott, senior curator in anthropology at the museum, said: “It’s a real first. A lot of these artefacts have never been seen on display before, and certainly not together.

“But we’re also looking at Tibetan books, and Tibetan Buddhist art, in a completely new way.

“There have been some real surprises during the development of the exhibition and we’re looking forward to sharing some of those with visitors.”

The exhibition will bring together collections and research from a range of sources, including the Sedgwick Museum, the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Cambridge University.

The exhibition will run from May 28 to January 17

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