Author Archives: barathron

New York hosts ancient Korea debut in West

The Malay Mail Online: Travel
NOVEMBER 1, 2013

MetA Buddha, probably Amitabha, which is part of the Silla Exhibit, is displayed October 28, 2013 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. — AFP-Relaxnews pic



NEW YORK CITY, Nov 1 — Drawn to bling? A fan of gold jewelry? Keen on Buddha? If so, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art offers the newest ticket to fend off the winter chill.

An exhibition of exquisite treasures from ancient Korea opens in New York next week, marking the first display anywhere outside Asia of the little known Silla kingdom.

The most famous export from Korea, a territory split in two by war, are the TVs, tablets and phones of South Korea multinational Samsung, the exhibition’s sponsors.

The ancient kingdom of Silla, which rose to prominence in the fifth century, is barely known in the West.

“Silla Korea’s Golden Kingdom” sets out to change that by showcasing dazzling art 16 centuries old on loan from the National Museum of Korea in Seoul and Gyeongju. Continue reading

Korean art enchanting Americans: Silla, Joseon artworks on show in world-renowned museums

Korea Times
by Chung Ah-young
1 November, 2013

The Maitreya in Meditation, a 7th-century gilt-bronze Buddhist statue designated as National Treasure No. 83, is on display at the “Silla: Korea’s Golden Kingdom” exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) in New York, the United States. The exhibition will continue through Feb. 23, 2014, featuring a total of 132 objects from the Silla Kingdom. / Courtesy of National Museum of Korea

Korean art has been regarded as a spinoff from those of China and Japan, which are believed to possess the core of Asian cultural and aesthetic values. It is rare to have the opportunity to appreciate the sheer essence of Korean art on the international scene.

However, as Korea’s national profile is on the rise partially thanks to the cultural influence of “hallyu,” or Korean wave, global interest in Korean cultural roots is also spiking. Ongoing exhibitions in the United States featuring ancient artwork from Korea offer an opportunity for non-Korean visitors to discover the unknown beauty of Korean ancient art which is discernible among Asian cultures. Continue reading

Contemporary Art Meets Buddhism at the Temple of Haeinsa [Seoul, South Korea Exhibit, thru Nov 10]

WSJ Blog
November 1, 2013

Seoul, South Korea — A South Korean Buddhist temple is playing host to a contemporary art show, in an effort to throw a new perspective to the ancient religion and the age-old surroundings.

The Temple of Haeinsa, an ancient shrine on a mountainside southeast of Seoul, is playing host to a contemporary art show.

The Temple of Haeinsa, a 1,211-year-old shrine located on a mountainside 280 kilometers (174 miles) southeast of Seoul, is home to the Tripitaka Koreana, the most complete collection of Buddhist texts, laws and treaties, engraved on more than 80,000 woodblocks carved in the 13th century. The woodblocks, their storage and the surrounding temple grounds are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The temple’s monks hosted the inaugural contemporary art show in 2011 to mark the millennial anniversary of the first woodblocks, which were engraved with a wish for protection against invasion from a northern dynasty that occupied lands now belonging to Mongolia and China. Those 1,000-year-old blocks were lost in a fire during the ensuing incursion. Continue reading

Shenandoah University students contemplate peace at Buddhist altar
Kim Walter
Oct. 27, 2013

A Shenandoah University student sits quietly beside the Buddhist altar.         Rich Cooley/Daily

WINCHESTER — Amidst the energy, excitement and stress that surrounds Shenandoah University’s campus, about 20 students were able to find one room where they could relax, meditate and contemplate peace.

As part of the first-year seminar class World Views in Art: The Indian Subcontinent, students took on the assignment of installing a six-part Buddhist altar. Last week, the altar was placed outside Sarah’s Glen, but was moved inside Goodson’s chapel on Wednesday due to weather.

The altar consists of Buddha heads, photographs, essays, dried fruit, flowers and other creative student contributions. At the center of the altar sits a Buddha statue fabricated by hand in India, and a miniature stupa.

The project is the first of its kind not only for the university, but also for Geraldine Kiefer, associate professor of art history and art. She said she prefers projects that are hands-on and give students a better understanding of whatever culture or theme they’re studying. Continue reading

Buddhist artist & teacher dies at 91

Philadelphia Inquirer
Megan Lydon
October 27, 2013

Doris Staffel´s painting “Spirit Gate” is part of the Woodmere Art Museum collection.

Doris Staffel Malarkey, a highly praised artist and teacher and a devoted Buddhist and mother, will have her life celebrated at the Arch Street Meeting House on Friday, Nov. 1.

Known professionally as Doris Staffel, she died of coronary artery disease Sept. 13 at her Society Hill home at age 91.

Born Doris Blitman in Brooklyn, N.Y., Mrs. Staffel started drawing at age 3, and painted up to three weeks before she died, said daughter Megan Staffel.

“As long as she could paint, she felt energized and excited about life,” Staffel said.

She said her mother’s favorite paintings to do in the last year of her life were small watercolors with geometric shapes.

“She loved the fact that she could still work. These pieces were very playful,” she said.

A majority of her works were abstract and deeply influenced by Buddhist philosophy. Continue reading

Fall 2013 BuddhaDharma Excerpt: The View from Mount Meru
Ajahn Punnadhammo
August 20, 2013


In light of modern knowledge, traditional Buddhist cosmology may seem irrelevant or quaint at best. But as Ajahn Punnadhammo explains, the world system it describes contains important insights for practicing the Buddhist teachings.

Before the middle of the nineteenth century, all Buddhists of all schools lived in the same conceptual universe. There were further levels of complexity added by the Mahayana, but it was still based on the foundation of the Theravada model described here. At the center of the world lay Mount Meru, 84,000 yojanas high (a yojana is an ancient unit of measure; its exact equivalent is not known, but estimates range from three to seventeen and a half miles). Halfway up its slope lay the Heaven of the Four Great Kings and at its peak was the Heaven of the Thirty-Three Gods presided over by Sakka, their king and the overlord of the terrestrial realm.

Surrounding Mount Meru were seven circular ranges of mountains, each one half the height of the preceding one, separated by circular seas. The whole area was surrounded by the world ocean and finally by a steep range of iron cliffs that formed the wall of the world. In the outer­most ocean were the four great continents, too far apart from each other for any conceivable human navigation. The southern continent was called Jambudipa, the Rose-Apple Land, and it was the whole known world, the place where all the drama, tragedy, and comedy of human existence was carried out.

When the whole world system is drawn to scale on a page like this one, Mount Meru would completely dominate the picture and Jambudipa would be a barely visible speck. Below Jambudipa lay the great hells, the niraya realms, where beings with evil karma suffered long torment as a result of their deeds. This whole mandala-like structure constituted a cakkavala, or world system. Continue reading

Collecting Kashmir: Buddhist Art in the Western Himalayas and St. Louis

ArtFix Daily
Events Calendar
October 10, 2013

building_night26350x268Saint Louis Art Museum
One Fine Arts Drive
St. Louis, Missouri

The annual Nelson I Wu Lecture on Asian Art and Culture honors the memory of the late Dr. Wu and is jointly sponsored by the Saint Louis Art Museum and Washington University in St. Louis. The elegant, cosmopolitan arts of Kashmir inspired Buddhists and artists in Western Tibet to acquire, revere, preserve, and imitate them. Eventually the imported Kashmiri style became integrated into the cultural identity of Western Tibetan Buddhists as their own signature mode of art-making. The valuable and distinctive workmanship of Kashmiri artists in brass, silver, gold, wood, and ivory, and the detailed painted illuminations of Buddhist deities continue to be prized by collectors and museums alike. This lecture [looked] at the different forms of “collecting” Kashmiri Buddhist art through the centuries.


Moving Buddha: Imagining Sculpture in China [London, UK Lecture]

The Courtauld Institute of Art Events Calendar

When and Where:
Friday 8 November 2013
18.00-19.00, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre


Modern reproductions of Buddhist sculpture for sale at an antiquities market in Beijing. Photo: Judith Farquhar

Sculpture as we know it did not exist in China. Stone stele and figural objects were produced in abundance for commemorative and religious functions. But these objects were not collected and displayed as sculpture. This lecture will discuss the emergence of Chinese sculpture as two parallel developments. In China from as early as the eighteenth century ancient Buddhist and Daoist images were preserved as antiquities. By the mid-nineteenth century small Buddhist and Daoist images were available in the Chinese antiquities market and were being acquired by private collectors. Foreign residents and visitors to China were unaware of such antiquities and as late as 1904 writers on Chinese art could declare that China had no tradition of monumental sculpture. It was only in 1906 that Okakura Kakuzo acquired the first significant group of Buddhist and Daoist images for a foreign collection, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. These were imagined as sculpture in the context of the fine art museum. Interestingly, the majority of Chinese images known from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are not genuinely ancient. Many are pious copies based on ancient styles; others are old but restored at a later date, many in the Ming dynasty. Other images are modern works, new votive works as well as forgeries for profit. The whole range of objects from old and rare antiquities to pious copies and restored works to modern productions were not easily distinguishable. Some were imagined as religious objects, some as antiquities, and others as sculpture.

Continue reading

Silk Road secrets: The Buddhist art of the Mogao Caves

BBC Arts & Culture
Paul Hastie
23 October 2013

Bodhisattva as Guide of Souls

The paintings from the Mogao caves show the development of Chinese art over a period of 1000 years

In a secret cave on China’s ancient Silk Road, one of the world’s most incredible collections of art lay locked away in darkness for 900 years.

It held a treasure trove of 50,000 Buddhist paintings and manuscripts dating back to the 5th Century.

And it would have remained hidden from the world if it had not been accidentally uncovered by a curious priest – who sold it away for a fraction of its worth.

The cave is one of the 500 surviving caverns at the Mogao Caves, on the edge of the Gobi desert, at Dunhuang in western China.

Their wonders are on show in London next week as part of the V&A’s new Masterpieces of Chinese Painting exhibition. Continue reading

Kim Ki-Duk’s 2003 Buddhist-inspired film, “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring,”

Martha’s Vineyard Times
Brooks Robards
October 17, 2013


Korean director Kim Ki-Duk’s 2003 Buddhist-inspired film, “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring,” [came] to the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center on Friday, Oct. 18. Buddhist teacher Tenzin Namsel, who is visiting the Island and conducting workshops here, [led] a discussion of the film’s Buddhist themes following the screening.

One remarkable aspect of “Spring,” evident from the start, is its powerful celebration of the world’s natural beauty. The film was shot on Jusan Pond, a 200-year-old man-made lake in a South Korean wilderness preserve in North Kyungsang Province. The exquisitely wooded hills — occasionally garlanded with mist — around the lake and its calm waters where humans live in harmony with their surroundings, can be seen as an unspoken commentary on deteriorating global conditions elsewhere. In the same way, the narrative proceeds with much that is unspoken but emblematic. Continue reading