Buddhist Art: Buddha and the Eastern Deities From the 17th to the 20th Century
Since its origination in India in the sixth century B.C, Buddhism has had a profound influence on the history and art of Asia. As the philosophy spread, previous concepts of life, death and humanity were radically altered. The basic ethical and spiritual teachings integrated easily with the many regional beliefs of the Indies, Asia, and North Africa, encouraging its rapid acceptance and popularity. The development of variations by local sets also merged with Shamanism and other religious practices. The Hindus gradually accepted Buddah as an incarnation of Vishnu. Taoist and Confucian rites were altered, though the later religion was often in competition with Buddhism in China for Imperial patronage.
The universalism "religion" was embraced by the rulers of India and Asia as it proved most useful in unifying ethnically divided populations. Members of all levels of society were accepted and differences of gender and class could thereby be transcended. Promoting peace, compassion and freedom from earthly suffering, Buddhist also posed no threat to Imperial power, as no supreme essence was worshiped. Under court patronage, Buddhist art and literature flourished from the sixth to the eleventh centuries. The Mongol campaigns through Central Asia, China, Korea, Persia and Tibet, continued from the eleventh through the fourteenth centuries. After their defeat, Buddhism experienced a resurgence in popularity and has remained of the world's oldest and greatest religions.
Buddhist images in bronze, alabaster, silver, stone and jade, paintings and thankas, along with ceremonial artifacts, manuscripts and calligraphy are all part of our collection.