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Cave Temples of Mogao at Dunhuang: Art and History on the Silk Road

9781606064450_grandeCave Temples of Mogao at Dunhuang: Art and History on the Silk Road
Roderick Whitfield, Susan Whitfield, and Neville Agnew

The Mogao grottoes in China, situated near the town of Dunhuang on the fabled Silk Road, constitute one of the world’s most significant sites of Buddhist art. The hundreds of caves carved into rock cliffs at the edge of the Gobi desert preserve one thousand years of exquisite art. Founded by Buddhist monks as an isolated monastery in the late fourth century, Mogao evolved into an artistic and spiritual mecca whose renown extended from the Chinese capital to the Western Kingdoms of the Silk Road. Among its treasures are miles of stunning wall paintings, more than two thousand statues, magnificent works on silk and paper, and thousands of ancient manuscripts, such as sutras, poems, and prayer sheets.

In this new expanded edition, Cave Temples of Mogao at Dunhuang, first published in 2000, combines lavish color photographs of the caves and their art with the fascinating history of the Silk Road to create a vivid portrait of this remarkable site. Chapters narrate the development of Dunhuang and the Mogao cave temples, the iconography of the wall paintings, and the extraordinary story of the rare manuscripts—including the oldest printed book in existence, a ninth-century copy of the Diamond Sutra. The book also discusses the collaboration between the Getty Conservation Institute and Chinese authorities in conservation projects at Mogao, and the ways in which the site can be visited today.

Roderick Whitfield is Percival David Professor emeritus in the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. Susan Whitfield is head of the International Dunhuang Project, British Library. Neville Agnew is a principal project specialist at the Getty Conservation Institute.

160 pages
8 x 10 inches
155 color & 25 b/w 
illustrations
1 map
ISBN 978-1-60606-445-0
paperback

Getty Publications
Imprint: Getty Conservation Institute
Series: Conservation and Cultural Heritage

2015

“Pure Land: Images of Immortals in Chinese Art” at the Ashmolean Museum

LI1301.398 Bodhisattva Guanyin, China, 18th-century, Blanc-de-Chine porcelain, 22 x 16.7 x 14.5 cm, Lent by the Sir Alan Barlow Collection Trust © The University of Sussex

LI1301.398 Bodhisattva Guanyin, China, 18th-century, Blanc-de-Chine porcelain, 22 x 16.7 x 14.5 cm, Lent by the Sir Alan Barlow Collection Trust © The University of Sussex

This wide-ranging exhibition, which includes paintings, textiles and porcelain, takes Chinese immortals and immortality as its theme. With a particular focus on the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha – the Buddha of Infinite Light – the exhibition also explores the worlds of Daoist Immortals and the Queen Mother of the West, all of whom had their mythical homes beyond the boundaries of the mortal world.

The Queen Mother famously makes an appearance in the Ming dynasty novel Monkey (Journey to the West) by Wu Cheng-en (1501-1582), and in this Year of the Monkey the mischievous antics of the Monkey King, Sun Wukong, stealing the peaches of immortality from the Queen’s peach garden, are represented in the exhibition by the paintings of Zheng Jiazhen (1918-2000). In his work Zheng is able to cleverly blend the worlds of the cartoon and traditional Chinese painting; here with depictions of the Monkey King as a character in Chinese opera.

Although in the teachings of Mahayana Buddhism other pure lands do exist, for example the Pure Land of the East of the Akshobhya Buddha, it is Amitabha’s Pure Land of the West, Sukhavati, that is the most popular and has received most attention in the world of art and literature. Pure Land is a form of Buddhism often associated with the cave temples at Dunhuang in northwest China and paintings produced as part of a twentieth-century tradition of copying the murals found in these caves are a central theme of the exhibition. Paintings on silk recovered from Cave number 17 (known as the “library cave”) were amongst the thousands of manuscripts that had been secretly stored there over one thousand years ago, and studies of these unique artworks are represented in the exhibition by the work of Hong Kong artists Xing Baozhuang (b.1940) and Rao Zongyi (b.1917).

EA 1987.31 The God of Longevity with attendant, Ren Yi, calligraphy by Wu Changshuo, 1891, ink and colour on paper, 198.3 x 93 cm © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

EA 1987.31 The God of Longevity with attendant, Ren Yi, calligraphy by Wu Changshuo, 1891, ink and colour on paper, 198.3 x 93 cm © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

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How did the Ramayana come to adorn the walls of Thailand’s most revered Buddhist temple?

How did the Ramayana come to adorn the walls of Thailand's most revered Buddhist temple? Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

How did the Ramayana come to adorn the walls of Thailand’s most revered Buddhist temple?
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

All around the Temple of the Emerald Buddha are murals telling the story of Phra Rama. How did they get there?

Scroll.in

Mridula Chari · Nov 10, 2015 · 01:30 pm

Wat Phra Kaew, or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, is the most sacred religious structure in Thailand. Located in the heart of Bangkok, near the royal palace, the lavish complex has more than 100 buildings in its compound, including a statue of the Emerald Buddha, which is considered the country’s protector.

Encircling this complex is a two-kilometre-long wall decorated with exquisite murals – of the Ramayana.

The Monkey Army, aided by the Queen of the Southern Ocean (Guanyin) and her subjects, builds a bridge of stones to Lanka. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

The murals of Wat Phra Kaew are sumptuous in colour and delicate in detail. The story of Phra Rama, the hero of Ramakien, as the Thai Ramayana is called, is told across 178 panels that are kept fresh with restorative work every few decades. The latest round was carried out in 2004.

Ramakien, or the Glory of Rama, has the same overarching structure as Valmiki’s version, but differs on some details such as character and setting. Crucially, it is shorn of the religious significance it has in India, and is instead treated as an epic narrative centred on Thai characters.

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Bon dance season begins

Posted: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 1:30 am
Dennis Fujimoto – The Garden Island

Wooden placards bearing names of individuals being remembered during bon is in the foreground as dancers go through bon dance practice, Thursday at the Kapaa Jodo Mission. The placards will be placed along the church's perimeter when it celebrates its bon dance, June 12 and 13 starting at 7:30 p.m.

Wooden placards bearing names of individuals being remembered during bon is in the foreground as dancers go through bon dance practice, Thursday at the Kapaa Jodo Mission. The placards will be placed along the church’s perimeter when it celebrates its bon dance, June 12 and 13 starting at 7:30 p.m.

LIHUE — People around the island have been preparing for the bon dance season which starts this weekend at the Waimea Shingon Mission.

The Waimea Shingon Mission was scheduled to host the final bon dance of the 2014 season, but the festivities were canceled due to the impending threat of Hurricane Iselle which battered the Big Island.

Practices have been held since the end of April for people who want to participate in the dance honoring and celebrating the spirits of family ancestors who are believed to return to Earth during bon, a tradition stemming from the Buddhist religion.

Hosted by the Kauai Buddhist Council, bon dances are held throughout the island with the public being welcome to join the celebratory and festive atmosphere at the event starting at 7:30 each evening. The hosting Buddhist church occasionally hosts special bon services starting at 6:30 p.m.

The dancing, done by participants in traditional Japanese summer kimono, or yukata, or happi coats, or informal short jacket, forms the focal point of the event. Participants are welcome to join the dancing which is done to recorded music accompanied by live taiko performers. During the traditional “intermission,” half-time entertainment of either traditional dance or live taiko performances help keep the night going.

There will be food and drink at each dance.

There is no admission to enjoy the event which arrived in Hawaii with the Japanese who were brought to the Islands to labor in the plantations. Over the years, the tradition has been adopted into the lifestyle and grown to become a true community event where people gather to enjoy the summer weekends.

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Spectacular 800-year-old Buddhist statue of goddess with a thousand hands restored to former glory after eight-year conservation project

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An 800-year-old Buddhist statue will go on public display next month after being restored to its former glory

Guanyin statue carved during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 to 1279)

Known as the ‘Goddess of Mercy’, the sculpture has more than 1,000 arms

After eight-year restoration project, it will be on public display from June 13

Project to repair statue, which started in 2008, cost tens of millions of yuan

Daily Mail
By KHALEDA RAHMAN and EDWARD CHOW FOR MAILONLINE

PUBLISHED: 05:50 EST, 7 May 2015 | UPDATED: 09:18 EST, 7 May 2015

A Buddhist statue that is more than eight hundred years old has been restored to its former glory and will soon be on public display in China after an eight-year conservation project.

Cultural experts gathered in Dazu, near Chongqing, to see the unveiling of the UNESCO-listed Guanyin statue in Baoding Mountain yesterday, the People’s Daily Online reported.

The Dazu Thousand-hand Bodhisattva was carved during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 to 1279).

The Category 1 National Relic – of a deity known as the ‘Goddess of Mercy’ – has 1,007 arms and an eye in each palm.

The UNESCO-listed Guanyin statue, also known as the 'Goddess of Mercy', was carved some 800 years ago

The UNESCO-listed Guanyin statue, also known as the ‘Goddess of Mercy’, was carved some 800 years ago

The statue’s bright golden colour lost its lustre over the centuries, cracks appeared in the sculpture and part of one of its many fingers fell off in 2007.

A restoration project, which began in 2008 and cost tens of millions of yuan, is finally complete and the statue will be on display to the public from June 13.

Zhan Zhangfa, the China Academy of Cultural Heritage Project’s team leader, said: ‘This stone statue is a rarity anywhere in the world and rightly deserves its classification of Category 1 National Stone Relic Conservation Project.’

The conservation team used the most advanced X-ray and infra-red technology to analyse the statue and found various factors that have affected its structural integrity.

Experts gathered in Dazu to see the statue's grand unveiling after an eight-year restoration project

Experts gathered in Dazu to see the statue’s grand unveiling after an eight-year restoration project

The Dazu Thousand-hand Bodhisattva was carved during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 to 1279)

The Dazu Thousand-hand Bodhisattva was carved during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 to 1279)

Over the years, the statue's bright golden colour lost its lustre, cracks appeared in the sculpture and part of one of its many fingers fell off in 2007

Over the years, the statue’s bright golden colour lost its lustre, cracks appeared in the sculpture and part of one of its many fingers fell off in 2007

Researchers found that the intense heat of Chongqing summers, which have a particularly oppressive humidity, which results in the surface of the Guanyin statue being covered in moisture. Continue reading

Buddhist remnants draw art historians

Archaeologists at the Bhimeswara Swamy temple at Chebrolu in Guntur district on Friday. —Photo: T. Vijaya Kumar

Archaeologists at the Bhimeswara Swamy temple at Chebrolu in Guntur district on Friday. —Photo: T. Vijaya Kumar

The Hindu
P. SAMUEL JONATHAN

16 archaeologists visit centuries-old Bhimeswara Swamy temple at Chebrolu

Early Buddhist remnants in Andhra Pradesh are continuing to draw art historians and archaeologists around the world.

The architectural splendour of the Amaravati School of Art still found in pillars and motifs unearthed in excavations is an object of historical research in schools of art of major European and American universities.

A group of 16 men and women, among them art historians, archaeologists, conservators and research fellows from USA, UK, Thailand on Friday visited Chebrolu, one of the earliest Buddhist sites in coastal Andhra Pradesh.

The village is home to centuries-old Bhimeswara Swamy temple, which is being renovated by the Archaeology Department.

Freelance archaeologist Kadiyala Venkateswara Rao, who unearthed congregational hall pillars embellished half lotus medallions, a distinct feature of Amaravati School of Art, accompanied the visitors on a guided tour. The visitors included representatives from Thailand Tourism Bureau.

Robert Schick, Research Fellow, American Centre of Oriental Research, Jordan, who visited the village on Friday, is working on a project related to early Buddhist sites in India and South Asia. His earlier visits to the country left a lasting impression on this researcher, who has started his own project in 2011 documenting the early Buddhist sites in Andhra Pradesh. Continue reading

Buddhism in the Art of J. D. Salinger

This is a tad obscure: here is an abstract from a paper, at a site called “Engineering Science Paper.” The site seems to be a robot-collected set of engineering and science-related papers. – Buddhist art news

Title Buddhism in the Art of J. D. Salinger
Abstract

Buddhism was established in ancient India by Sakyamuni (in English, Sage of the Sakyas). It was spread into China around the first century and experienced great development. Japan and South East Asia received its influence afterward. The local culture has been greatly influenced where Buddhism was spread. The major theories of Buddhism include the four Noble Truths, which explained the state that life is suffering, its cause, the fact that suffering has an end and the road to it. At the 19th century, Buddhism spread into Europe and America, and began to influence the western culture. The 20th century saw the widening and deepening of Buddhist influence on America. Many famous writers showed their contact by Buddhism in their works, such as Gary Snider and Jack Kerouac.Jerome David Salinger was one of the most important American writers in the middle of the 20th century. Since the end of the Second World War, Salinger has been very close to Buddhism. After his enormous success with The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger chose to live reclusively in the countryside of New Hampshire, and traces of Buddhism appear more and more common in his later works. Salinger’s writings are devoted to the narration of time periods, instead of the whole process of the story. He succeeded in reflecting the mental suffering of the young generation, and received echoes from the readers.Many critics in the U. S. have made their study on relations between Salinger and Buddhism. Gerald Rosen published a book titled Zen in the Art of J. D. Salinger, which concentrates on the Zen influence in the works of J. D. Salinger, especially in The Catcher in the Rye. So far the studies in this field are restricted to one or two books of Salinger, and their comments on Buddhism in his works are often not systematic. Continue reading