Category Archives: Relics

Precious Buddhist Relics Stolen in Cambodia

December 13, 2013

Cambodian officials said Friday a golden urn containing what are considered to be remnants of Buddha’s body has been stolen from its shrine near the capital.

Government spokesman Ek Tha said the relics have enormous religious and cultural significance for Cambodians.

“This relic has been respected by Buddhist followers for thousands of years,” he said. “This theft cannot be accepted. The perpetrator and any associates who connived to commit such a crime must be prosecuted according to the law of Cambodia.”

National Police spokesman Kirt Chantharith said the theft was discovered Tuesday when a guard was woken by a barking dog and found the lock to the shrine’s door had been damaged and the urn removed.

He said police questioned 13 of the shrine’s guards and detained six as suspects, but that authorities had no information about the relics’ location. “We need more time to do the investigation,” he said.

Ek Tha said the relics had been moved by late King Norodom Sihanouk in 2002 from Phnom Penh, the capital, to the mountain shrine in the former royal city of Udong in a ceremony attended by tens of thousands.


Exhibit of historical Buddhist relics comes to Fort Worth

Dallas News
Deborah Fleck
Published: 27 November 2013 07:25 PM

Buddhists believe the relics left behind when a master dies have special powers. Called “ringsel” by Tibetans, the pearl-like crystals are said to foster feelings of happiness and peace among those who see them.

About 1,000 of these historical relics will be on display Friday through Sunday at Unity Fort Worth, 5051 Trail Lake Drive. The Dalai Lama has contributed eight relics that are more than 2,500 years old. He rescued them from Tibet in 1959. There are also relics from 40 other Buddhist masters. The relics will encircle a life-size statue of the Maitreya Buddha. According to Buddhist scriptures, Maitreya will be the next Buddha to bring teachings to the world. Eventually some of the relics will be enshrined in a statue of Maitreya being built in India.

Along with viewing the relics, visitors can participate in a ceremony where the relics are gently placed on their heads as a personal blessing. The tour is free and open to all faiths. Hours are 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Visit


[Lecture: San Diego, USA] Personal Devotion in Japanese Buddhist Art

San Diego Reader

This lecture by Dr. Ive Covaci, of Fairfield University, will consider the history of images of personal devotion in medieval and early modern Japan; what kinds of objects were used; how devotees viewed and interacted with these miniature icons; the relationship between small statues for personal worship and their larger counterparts in temple settings; and more. Includes a docent-led tour. 619-232-7931.

Friday, October 18, 10 a.m.
San Diego Museum of Art
1450 El Prado, San Diego, 92101
Get directions

Cost: $8 – $15 | Buy tickets


Relics transform small California Buddhist temple

The Bismarck Tribune
John Rogers
13 October, 2013


Although he’d been a practicing Buddhist for 20 years, until 10 months ago Dharma Master YongHua hadn’t even seen so much as one of the sacred relics known as shariras that are so important to his faith.

So it came as quite a surprise to the modest, soft-spoken monk when he learned he was becoming the caretaker of more than 10,000 of them.

YongHua’s modest Lu Mountain Temple became a repository for the thousands of colorful crystals, two teeth and a single hair that are believed to have come from the body of the Buddha himself. A congregant offered up the collection that he’d painstakingly gathered for years.

The relics are said to be capable of producing miracles for people who go near them. And although Buddhists, like members of other religious groups, say that has to be taken on faith, even the skeptical are starting to believe miracles are happening since the shariras arrived. Continue reading

Travel Through Time: Asian Art Featured on The Curator’s Eye

ArtfixDaily Artwire™
18 September 2013

As Asian art markets continue their impressive showing at sales and shows around the world, The Curator’s Eye ( hosts a chronological tour of the exceptional items of Asian origin currently on display on the continuous online exhibition. The Curator’s Eye offers a varied selection of objects made in locations from China to Cambodia, and made from as early as 550 A.D. up to contemporary times.

Chinese Standing Buddha
Dated during the Northern Qi Dynasty of China, which ran between 550 and 577 A.D., this exceptionally beautiful standing Buddha represents the height of Northern Qi Buddhist sculptures in the quality of its carving and elegant restraint. The face of the carving has the unreachable deep meditative expression typical of Buddhist art, and the treatment of the robe has just a few parallels in Northern Qi sculpture, making this a rare example of the art of this period, and how it reflects the influence of Indian Gupta sculptural style.

ArtFix1Baphuon Style Khmer Head

Moving ahead five hundred years, The Curator’s Eye presents a finely sculpted, elegant gray schist carved head, in the style of the Baphuon Temple in Angkor, Cambodia. The temple was built around 1060 under the reign of Udayadityavarma to the glory of Shiva. In this piece, the Baphuon style is exhibited in the characteristic incised lines drawing the eyes and lips, as well as in the dimple in the chin highlighting the purity of the lines combined with the smiling grace. Continue reading

[San Francisco Lecture] Down to the Bone: Duality, Mortality and Impermanence in Tibetan Buddhist Arts and Ritual [September 21, 2013]

University of Southern California calendar
18 September, 2013

The Society for Asian Art presents a talk with Tamara Hill on the wrathful, ironic, and amusing depictions of skeletons, bones, and skulls in Tibetan Tantric Buddhist arts and rituals.


Asian Art Museum, Education Studios
When: September 21, 2013, 10:30 am – 3:30 pm
Address: 200 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
Cost: $45 Society Members, $55 Non-Members (after Museum admission)
Phone: 415-581-3701

This illustrated lecture is about the wrathful, ironic, and amusing depictions of skeletons, bones, and skulls in Tibetan Tantric Buddhist arts and rituals. Images and artifacts that confront us with our own mortality and duality will be featured based on the presenter’s travels and experiences in the Himalayas and will be illustrated with her original photographs. The focus will be on the transformative and positive impact of these fearsome images of death and the skeletal body – visual metaphors that point to inner, spiritual regeneration and illumined awareness. Continue reading

Archaeological Mafia in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province

The Express Tribune
Fawad Shah and Shahsawar Khan
8 September, 2013

SwatA team of archaeologists from Hazara University in Mansehra excavating in Udegram, Swat.

Swat 2The Unesco World Heritage site of Takht-i-Bahi in Mardan where a Buddhist monastery complex survives on the crest of a hill. It was founded in the first century AD.

History is hard enough to piece together from shards of pottery. The storyline is further distorted in some European and Chinese museums if they unknowingly acquire smuggled artifacts from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The relics have often been displayed with labels that have either incomplete or misconstrued information, say museum officials. For example, they can say a piece is from Pakistan or Afghanistan. If Pakistan wants to reclaim it, then, the foreign museum rejects the request and tells it to settle the matter with Afghanistan first.

Murky sourcing is to blame. For instance, many Gandhara Civilisation pieces that find their way into museums and homes across the world are not properly documented as they have been dug up by farmers and subsequently hawked by middlemen across the globe. No one has kept track. Formal archaeological digs are expensive and the government hasn’t been able to keep up. Continue reading

[New S Wales Exhibit, Aug 22 – Nov 10]: Sarcophagus lifts lid on sixth century life

The Sydney Morning Herald
John Saxby
August 20, 2013

 Silk Road Saga: Objects from the tomb of diplomat Yu Hong defy expectations.


Unique carvings: Curator Cao Yin with marble panels being installed for A Silk Road Saga. Photo: Brendan Esposito

It was common for elites in sixth-century China to be buried in a sarcophagus that resembles a Chinese house, like the centrepiece of A Silk Road Saga, a new exhibition opening at the Art Gallery of NSW on Thursday.

However, the richly detailed, white marble tomb of central Asian diplomat Yu Hong and his wife is a rarity, says curator Cao Yin.

Its carvings and designs contain no Chinese elements at all. Continue reading

Exhibition showcases the tremendous aesthetic and material diversity of prayer beads from across Asia

Art Daily
3 August, 2013

Prayer Coral Prayer Beads, Tibet; 19th century coral, turquoise, jade, dzi, clay and silk; Rubin Museum of Art; Gift of Anne Breckenridge Dorsey; C2012.8.

NEW YORK, NY.- Created from precious and semi-precious stones, ivory, wood, seeds, and bone, the prayer beads explored in the Rubin Museum’s exhibition, Count Your Blessings: The Art of Prayer Beads in Asia, exemplify the aesthetic and material diversity and devotional importance of these objects from across Buddhist Asia. Opened on August 2, 2013, the exhibition examines the origins, uses, and significance of prayer beads in the Buddhist traditions of Tibet, Bhutan, Mongolia, China, Korea, Japan, and Burma. The nearly 80 featured sets of prayer beads come predominantly from the private collection of Anne Dorsey, who gathered them over 20 years while traveling throughout Asia looking for rare and complex examples—approximately 40 of the works on display have been given to the Museum’s permanent collection.

On view through March 24, 2014, the exhibition delves into the histories and varied uses of prayer beads, emphasizing how their arrangement, complexity, materiality, and visual attributes reference their symbolic meaning, practical use, or status. The show addresses the importance of the structure and number of beads in a set to their function in religious practice. Count Your Blessings also includes a few select examples of prayer beads from the Christian, Islamic, and Hindu traditions to help orient audiences and provide parallels with more familiar objects of similar purpose, such as rosaries. Tibetan scroll paintings or thangkas depicting prayer beads as the prominent attributes of the subjects lend an additional visual experience to the exhibition of predominantly three-dimensional objects.

“Count Your Blessings provides us with an opportunity to explore shared cultural approaches to the use of prayer beads in personal devotional practices, chanting, recitation of mantras, and as signs of status, and to highlight their enduring significance from centuries ago to the present day,” said Rubin Museum Curator Elena Pakhoutova. “Prayer beads find expression outside of their immediate cultural context and play a role in our contemporary existence. We are excited to help our diverse audiences find connections between the prayer beads’ traditional meanings and their own lives, and to share the exquisite beauty in their creation.”

The installation will feature interactive components, including a touch screen that will show photographs of contemporary practitioners throughout Tibetan areas of the Himalayas using prayer beads. Various examples of prayer beads made of different materials will allow visitors to experience them in the traditional way, as they would be by Buddhist practitioners. Visitors will also be able to view and read descriptions of select and most representative prayer beads on their hand-held devices and listen to a podcast as well as an audio tour.

Highlights from the exhibition, include:
• A set of turquoise prayer beads from 19th-century Tibet made of turquoise, bone, and silver. Turquoise, considered a jewel and highly regarded by Tibetans, is one of the best materials for prayer beads. Together with beads made of carved bone, which serve as separators, the set is suitable for wrathful deity practices. Its materials denote the high status of its owner. It once belonged to a princess of Derge, in eastern Tibet. The set is among those given to the Museum by Anne Dorsey.
• Rudraksha prayer beads from 19th-century Tibet made of rudraksha, silver, ivory, amber, agate, carnelian, turquoise, and two copper ear picks. Dried berry of the rudraksha tree is named after the wrathful god Rudra, a manifestation of Shiva. In Buddhism, they are employed in the mantra recitations of wrathful deity practices. Rudraksha, the “eye of Rudra/Shiva”, is said to be especially associated with the Ancient (Nyingma) Tibetan Buddhist tradition. The lore of the legendary Indian master Padmasambhava’s visit to Tibet tells a story of his “rosary,” made of rare six-lobed rudrakshabeads that broke. When they were picked up, a few of the beads remained on the ground, and these took root, becoming the source of six-lobed beads treasured by Tibetans. The set is among those given to the Museum by Anne Dorsey.
• Wooden prayer beads with six large separator beads from 19th–20th-century Japan. This unusual set consists of 540 beads and belongs to the Japanese Shingon Buddhist School. Six large separator beads have hollowed out interiors and glass “windows” with bronze frames, which contain small wooden sculptures of deities identified by inscriptions.
• A pressed incense hand “rosary” from 20th-century China made of pressed incense, rose quartz, and kingfisher feather. This hand rosary set exemplifies the combination of the aesthetic, medicinal, and symbolic attributes ascribed to the beads. The pressed incense wrapped in kingfisher feathers would emit a faint fragrance while handled, as it would be heated by the warmth of the fingers. The kingfisher bird is a traditional Chinese symbol of well-being and longevity. The set is among those given to the Museum by Anne Dorsey.


National Museum Suphan Buri, Thai Museum, Features Gallery of Buddhist Art and Local Collections

Bangkok Post Travel

Only about 100km northwest of Bangkok, Suphan Buri province has a lot for visitors to see and do, ranging from forests, waterfalls and an aquarium to major temples. However, the National Museum Suphan Buri is often overlooked by visitors, even by culture vultures – maybe because it is relatively new or because it is overshadowed by another outstanding local museum.

ThairRiceFarmers Photo (c) Tourism Authority of Thailand

Established in 1995, this museum serves as a learning centre for archaeology, history, anthropology, local art and culture through displays of ancient art objects, models and audio-visual media. Continue reading