Visions of Buddha: Faces of Transformation
Ming's Asian Gallery presents the many images of Buddha, which focuses on the artistic adaptations by diverse cultures. This collection traces the origins of Buddhism in India and its wide spread influence throughout Asia.
As Buddhist philosophy spread, promoting peace, compassion and freedom from earthly suffering, so did Buddhist artistry. Spiritual teachings were incorporated to suit local belief systems, in the process unifying various ethnic populations. The Hindus gradually accepted Buddha as an incarnation of Vishnu Taoist and Confucian rites were influenced as well, and often merged with Buddhist, Shamanistic and other native practices.
Buddhism has its historic origins in India in the 16th century B.C., though the physical depiction of Buddha only evolved some six hundred years later. Earliest images were aesthetically refined at Mathura and Gandhara regions, with strong physique, voluminous drapery and knotted hair, suggesting an affinity with Greek and/or Roman models. Over several hundred years other centers of Buddhist art flourished: China added grandeur and magnificence to the image, while Korea and Japan offered a more simplistic elegance. Nepal, Tibet and Burma integrated deities from Hinduism, and Buddha began emerging in other forms with medicinal, protective powers and sexual powers.
Fine examples of Buddhist imagery, from Nepal, Tibet, China, Burma, Cambodia, Thailand, Korea and Japan are on display. Paintings, woodblocks, calligraphy, ink stones, seals, bronzes, marble, stone and wood carvings, alter tables, temple shrines, ritual objects, jade amulets, textiles and porcelain from the 11th century through early 20th century are featured in our collection.