February 10–May 7, 2017
Secrets of Buddhist Art: Tibet, Japan, and Korea
Bodhisattva Kshitigarbha and the Kings of Hell, Korea, late 19th or early 20th century, late Joseon period (1392–1912). Colors and cloth. Newark Museum, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. John P. Lyden, 2001, 2001.75.1
Watch Tibetan monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery construct the mandala with colored sand over the course of five days.
Shingon Religious Order. Ragaraja (King of Bright Passion) Shrine with Vaishravana (Guardian of the North), Acala (Immovable Protector), Eleven-Headed Avalokiteshvara (Bodhisattva of Compassion), and the Monk Kukai (774–835), Japan, Edo period (1603–1868). Wood, gold, colors, lacquer, wires, and metal fastenings, Newark Museum, Purchase 1909 George T. Rockwell Collection, 9.858
Attributed to Gyeju (flourished ca. 1680s). Seated Buddha, Korea, 17th century, Joseon Period (1392–1912). Wood, lacquer, gold, and rock crystal. Newark Museum, Purchase 2013 Mr. and Mrs. William V. Griffin Fund, 2013.26
Gelug Religious Order. Yamantaka Embracing Vajravetali, Tibet, 17th–18th centuries. Mercury gilding, copper alloy, cold gold, and colors. Newark Museum, Gift of Dr. Wesley Halpert and Mrs. Carolyn M. Halpert in memory of Rudi, 1996, 96.84
Buddha, Tibet, 15th–16th centuries. Mercury gilding, copper alloy, and turquoise. Newark Museum, Purchase 1920 Shelton Collection, 20.45
Keman Ritual Banner with Flower Decoration, Japan, Edo Period (1603–1868). Gilded bronze, copper alloy, and glass. Newark Museum, Gift of Mrs. A.H. Gibbes, 1924, 24.1011
Wheel of Existence, Tibet, 18th–19th centuries. Colors and cloth. Newark Museum, Purchase 1936 Carter Holton Collection, 36.535A
Commissioned and created by Hoshimori Unno and Eizawa Kingoro. Amitabha (Buddha of Limitless Light) Shrine, Japan, 1897, Meiji Period (1868–1912). Silver, gold, diamond, and ruby. Newark Museum, Gift of Herman A. E. Jaehne and Paul C. Jaehne, 1937, 37.59A-H
King Yama of Hell, Korea, late Joseon Period (1392–1912). Colors on cloth.
Newark Museum, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. John Lyden, 1996, 96.41.2
The historical Buddha lived in the sixth century BCE. Born Siddhartha Gautama in Lumbini (present-day Nepal), he renounced his life as a prince to pursue a spiritual calling. The titles Buddha (enlightened or awakened one) and Shakyamuni (sage of the Shakya clan) were awarded to him as he traveled throughout present-day northern India, teaching what is now called Buddhism. Images of the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, are prevalent throughout the Buddhist world, as are depictions of great events from his many lifetimes, especially his miraculous birth, departure from home, attainment of enlightenment, first sermon at Deer Park, and realization of nirvana upon his final death.
Between the fourth and third centuries BCE there was a major divide among the adherents of Buddhism, resulting in the creation of two main branches: Mahayana (Great Vehicle or Great Path) and Theravada (The Elders). Mahayana Buddhism spread throughout northern India, Nepal, Central Asia, Tibet, China, Korea, and Japan. Theravada Buddhism flourished in southern India and Sri Lanka and throughout Southeast Asia. This primary rift in some ways is similar to the early separation of the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions in Christianity.
Seven hundred years later, in the third century CE, another form of Buddhism rose within the Mahayana branch. Referred to as Vajrayana (Vajra Vehicle or Vajra Path) or Tantrayana (Tantra Vehicle or Tantra Path), this esoteric school dominates Tibetan practice and is also prominent in Japan. Its devotees participate in initiation and empowerment ceremonies kept secret from outsiders.
Secrets of Buddhist Art showcases magnificent and rare works of art from the Newark Museum’s renowned collection, revealing Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhist practices of Tibet, Japan, and Korea. The sections are organized nonlinearly according to five themes that intentionally transcend national boundaries, with renderings of similar subjects that encourage comparisons among regional aesthetics while distinguishing aspects unique to each area. The exhibition also features a ritually created Tibetan sand mandala that connects to the older works of art and reminds us that this is very much a living practice.
While you are here, be sure and visit our Education Gallery, which features a completed mandala of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion.
This exhibition is supported in part by the 2017 Frist Gala Nirvana and Mandala Society Patrons.
Secrets of Buddhist Art: Tibet, Japan, and Korea was organized by the Newark Museum and curated by Katherine Anne Paul, PhD.