Featured Topic: Buddhism

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Cave as Canvas: Hidden Images of Worship Along the Ancient Silk Routes
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Buddhist Cave Temples in Chinese Central Asia along the Silk Routes. A discussion of the Buddhist rock-cut caves at Qizil (or Kizil), near the city of Kucha. With eight detail images of the paintings at Qizil, along with descriptions addressing style, influence, and iconography, plus an architectural diagram of a typical Kuchean Buddhist cave temple.

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.asia.si.edu/exhibitions/online/cave/
The Caves of the Thousand Buddhas
The British Museum
An introduction to the "Caves of the Thousand Buddhas," or Qianfodong, "situated at Mogao, about 25 kilometres southeast of the oasis town of Dunhuang in Gansu province, western China, in the middle of the desert. ... At some point in the early 11th century, an incredible archive - with up to 50,000 documents, hundreds of paintings, together with textiles and other artefacts - was sealed up in one of the caves. Its entrance concealed behind a wall painting, the cave remained hidden from sight for centuries, until 1900, when it was discovered by Wang Yuanlu, a Daoist monk who had appointed himself abbot and guardian of the caves." With 19 images, each with explanatory text.

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/online_tours/asia/caves_of_the_1000_buddha...
Monks and Merchants: Silk Road Treasures from Northwest China, Gansu and Ningxia, 4th-7th Century
Asia Society
Features more than 35 objects organized into the following topics: 1) Heavenly Horses; 2) Nomadic Rulers; 3) Buddhism and China; 4) Buddhist Cave Temples; 5) Bodhisattvas; 6) Monks; 7) Merchants and Currencies; 8) The Tang Dynasty. Each topic has overview text, and each object is accompanied by short descriptive text. An additional topic on the Silk Road itself gives extensive background information on the geographical, historical, religious, and cultural context of the Silk Road.

Go to Museum Resource: http://sites.asiasociety.org/arts/monksandmerchants/index.html
Art Access: Art of India, Himalayas, and Southeast Asia
The Art Institute of Chicago
This introduction to the art of South and Southeast Asia features 15 representative objects (mostly Hindu and Buddhist sculptures) from the Art Institute's collection. The objects have good descriptive text with links to an excellent glossary and maps. The site also includes four lesson plans (specifically for grade levels 1-3, 4-8, 7-8, and 9-12, but adaptable for all age groups). Each lesson plan includes a list of the fulfilled Illinois Learning Standards for that plan, and the lesson plan Divine Faith Discussion lists some Buddhist, Hindu, and Islamic places of worship in the Chicago area. There is also a Family Activities section (with hands-on activities for younger children) and a bibliography of books and media.

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.artic.edu/artaccess/AA_India/index.html
Buddhism and Buddhist Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
An overview of the development of Buddhism and Buddhist art in South Asia from the 1st century BCE to the 6th century CE. With images of 10 related sculptures.

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/budd/hd_budd.htm
Recognizing the Gods
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
A guide to the iconography of Hindu and Buddhist deities in South Asian sculpture. Discusses specific poses, hand gestures, postures, vehicles, and accoutrements. With images of 11 related artworks and an explanatory drawing of five mudras (hand gestures).

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/gods/hd_gods.htm
Sacred Texts: The Gandharan Scrolls
The British Library
These fragments "from an extraordinary collection of birch bark writings from ancient Gandhara in present-day Pakistan and Afghanistan may represent the oldest surviving Buddhist texts (and also the oldest South Asian manuscripts) ever discovered." Featuring excellent high-resolution images of the scroll fragments, along with background information about Buddhism, the kingdom of Gandhara, and the significance of these particular scrolls.

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/sacredtexts/gandhara.html
University of Washington, Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization
"This unit offers evidence of how Buddhism changed China's visual culture, showing the evolution of images of deities, plus views of temples and people practicing Buddhism." A Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization was prepared by University of Washington history professor Patricia Buckley Ebrey. With questions for discussion, timelines, maps, and suggested readings. Select HOME to find link to teachers' guides for all topics featured on the website.

Go to Museum Resource: http://depts.washington.edu/chinaciv/bud/5budhism.htm
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