Permanent Exhibition / S303
Buddhism originated in India in the sixth century BCE and underwent more than 1,700 years of development on the subcontinent before the Muslim invasion of the late twelfth century. In the process, Buddhism evolved and its teachings became more and more systematic. With the support of Indian ruling houses and the efforts of Buddhist clergy, the religion spread to Central Asia, China, Tibet, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, and Southeast Asia. From China, the religion also spread further to the Korean Peninsula and Japan. Since then, Buddhism has flourished and now exists in diverse incarnations around Asia.
Across Asia, Buddhist images and sūtras all center on encouraging followers to attain enlightenment, but different styles have emerged in different cultures, hence the large variation in calligraphy and framing and representation of deities. All these have contributed to the diversity and splendor of Asian Buddhist art.
This exhibition comprises five sections: “The Joy of Birth,” “The Wisdom of the Buddha,” “The Compassion of the Bodhisattva,” “Transmission and Transformation of the Buddhist Striptures,” and “The Mystery of Esoteric Buddhism.” Each section presents exhibits side by side in chronological fashion in order to show the similarities and differences in Buddhist art, so that the viewer can appreciate the beauty of Buddhist artworks from different regions during the same period and can see the depth of its philosophical foundations.