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SAN ANTONIO MUSEUM OF ART

HEAVEN AND HELL  SALVATION AND RETRIBUTION IN PURE LAND BUDDHISM

https://www.samuseum.org/heavenandhell

Open until September 10, 2017

This exhibition has been curated by Dr. Emily Sano, Senior Advisor for Asian Art, and director emeritus of the ASIAN/SFO.

What impressed me most besides the quality of the works shown, was the inclusion of art works from different countries and cultures we do not always associate with Pure Land Buddhism.

On June 16, the San Antonio Museum of Art will present Heaven and Hell: Salvation and Retribution in Pure Land Buddhism, the first exhibition in the U.S. to explore in detail one of the most popular forms of Buddhism throughout Asia.

Featuring approximately 70 works—including paintings, sculpture, and decorative objects—the exhibition contrasts the visions of heaven and hell, ideas that are central to Pure Land Buddhism. Curated by Dr. Emily Sano, PhD, the Coates-Cowden-Brown Senior Advisor for Asian Art at the San Antonio Museum of Art, the exhibition features some of the most stunning examples of works created as part of the sect’s devotional and funerary traditions. They are drawn from twenty private collections and institutions across the country and world as well as the Museum’s own Asian collections. Heaven and Hell will be on view through September 10, 2017.

Originally developed in West Asia during the early years of the Common Era, Pure Land Buddhism spread across Central Asia to China and into Tibet, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, pulling in and incorporating the gods and figures of local faiths in each new culture. One figure, Amitābha, the Buddha of the Western Paradise, remained at the center of the Pure Land faith, promising salvation in his heavenly paradise to anyone who simply calls his name. This promise of salvation and an escape from the pain of hell—even to those who led less than exemplary lives—helped Pure Land Buddhism flourish and expand throughout Asia. In contrast, the more traditional Theravada Buddhism held that nirvana could only be obtained through devout study and meditation.

“Heaven and Hell provides a dynamic and in-depth view of Pure Land Buddhism, highlighting the way different cultures adopted and adapted the faith,” said Sano. “Its adherents found commonality in inspiration and devotion, while also contributing their local beliefs and imagery to the practice.” The result is a richness of both religious narrative and imagery that makes for compelling viewing, including in rituals that continue to the present day. The exhibition explores these different regional approaches, and the evolution of devotional art as Pure Land Buddhism moved eastwards across Asia.

Lenders to the exhibition include the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Cleveland Art Museum, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Philadelphia Art Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Birmingham Museum of Art, and the Dallas Museum of Art. Curated by Emily Sano, PhD, the Coates-Cowden-Brown Senior Advisor for Asian Art at the San Antonio Museum of Art, and the former director of the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, the exhibition will also be accompanied by a catalog. (San Antonio Museum)

Below a unique and most beautiful sculpture of the Bowing Buddha

Bowing Buddha

THE CASE FOR REBUILDING THE BAMYAN BUDDHAS TO THEIR ORIGINAL GLORY

Remember 2001 when the Bamyan Buddhas were destroyed ……… some of us were fortunate to have seen them before this happened. This is an article about possibly rebuilding the colossal statues that have greeted pilgrims, merchants, monks since the 7th century.

Read this article if this interests you.

https://www.buddhistdoor.net/features/buddhistdoor-view-the-case-for-restoring-the-bamiyan-buddhas-to-their-original-glory

Bamyan

Swat’s Uddiyana Kingdom

EXPLORING THE VALLEY OF SWAT once known as the Switzerland of the east…..
in Pakistan

SWAT

Swat District in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan has a history of over 2000 years, with Buddhist, Hindu and Islamic kingdoms and most recently the Taliban.

High mountains, clear lakes and green meadows are attractive not only to tourists. The Valley of Swat is said to have had over one thousand stupas and monasteries – today we now know of about 400 Buddhist sites – most frequently associated with Gandharan and Kushan art. A group of women trekkers, some from Swat University visited sites in March 2017 – that saw the times of Alexander the Great, the Kushan empire and Ashoka (Mauryan empire) – one of the earlier followers of Buddha.

Can we still go there to visit??

Cheers,

Elisabeth

(top photo from Buddhist Art News)

SWAT2

RESTORING MEDIEVAL BUDDHIST SHRINES IN NEPAL’S HIMALAYAS

In this photograph taken on June 15, 2016 Nepalese artist Tsewang Jigme….restores  sacred murals…..in the remote Upper Mustang region.

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In Nepal’s  Upper Mustang region, once part of the Buddhist kingdom of Mustang high on the Tibetan plateau, the artist  Tsewang  Jigme works on the restoration of antique murals. It is said that murals in some temples in this area predate the oldest temples in Tibet.  But neglect, wind, rain and smoke have turned the bright frescoes into black. Many of these shrines survived the Cultural Revolution of the 1960’s and the earthquake of  April 2015.
Read this article to see how the restoration of these sacred murals is making progress in the 21st century: http://www.mysinchew.com/node/114954?tid=
Cheers,
Elisabeth and Natasha

NEW DISCOVERY IN PAKISTAN DATING BACK TO MAURYAN AND KUSHAN DYNASTIES IN SWAT, PAKISTAN

Archeologists excavated in April and June of 2016 layers  of cities associated with  Indo-Greek, Mauryan and Kushan cultures.
Mauryan settlements dating to the third century BC – think of the great Mauryan king Ashoka, the  grandson of the founder of the dynasty who vigorously promoted Buddhism among other things with carved edicts  on pillars of stone and wood from Bengal  to Afghanistan.  Some of us have admired the great lion capital in Sarnath from a time when episodes  and symbols from Buddha’s life  were portrayed – in this case the lotus and the wheel of law – instead of the later  presentations of Buddha  – seen first in the arts of Gandharan and Mathura.
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Archeologists also excavated a large temple with four pillars belonging to the Kushan era, 2nd century BC to second century AD. The Kushans dominated the areas of the Hindu Kush into Kabul, Gandhara, northern Pakistan and north-western India. They controlled the trade between China in the east and the Romans in the west. Under the famous Kushan ruler Kanishka ( 144 to 172 AD) Buddhist settlements flourished including Gandhara with its distinctive Graeco – Buddhist art form that influenced the arts in Central Asia and then China.
I first read about this discovery in Buddhist Art News:
Cheers,
Elisabeth and Natasha

ANCIENT BUDDHIST CARVING EXCAVATED IN THE SWAT VALLEY IN PAKISTAN

I do not want to disclose the exact location  — we do not need any more obliterations of Buddhist sculptures — but carvings dating back some 1700 years have been found in the remains of an old shrine. The fragment shows  what is known as The Great Departure  — the historical Prince Siddhartha leaving his palace in Kapilavastu venturing outside the castle confines to experience suffering and eventually attain enlightenment  to become Gautama Buddha.

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Cheers,
Elisabeth and Natasha