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Treasures of Ancient China

  • Image of "Standing Boddhisattva (detail), Eastern Wei, 6c, Excavated from Longxingsi, Qingzhou, Shangdong province, H. 110 cm, Qingzhou Municipal Museum, China "

    Standing Boddhisattva (detail), Eastern Wei, 6c, Excavated from Longxingsi, Qingzhou, Shangdong province, H. 110 cm, Qingzhou Municipal Museum, China

    Japanese Archaeology and Special Exhibition (Heiseikan) Special Exhibition Galleries
    September 28, 2004 (Tue) - November 28, 2004 (Sun)

    This exhibition presents the essence of ancient Chinese culture through some 170 outstanding artefacts, with the focus on Buddhist art and recent archaeological finds.

 General Information
Period Tuesday September 28 - Sunday November 28, 2004
Venue Tokyo National Museum (Ueno Park)
Hours 9:30-17:00. Open until 20:00 on Fridays during the exhibition (last entry 30 minutes before closing time). Closed Monday (Except for Monday October 11; closed Tuesday October 12 instead).
Admissions Adults: 1300(1100/1000)yen
University and high school students: 900 (800/700) yen
Jr. high and elementary school students: Free
Prices shown in ( ) indicate advance-discount/group (more than 20 persons) tickets.
Persons with a disability are allowed free entry with one companion. Valid identification requested upon entry.
Advance tickets are on sale at the Museum ticket office (during museum hours) and the counters of JR East, Ticket Pia and other major ticket offices until September 27, 2004.
Access 10 minutes' walk from JR Ueno Station (Park exit) and Uguisudani Station
15 minutes' walk from Keisei Ueno Station and Tokyo Metro Ueno Station.
Organizers Tokyo National Museum, Asahi Shimbun, TV Asahi, State Administration of Cultural Heritage of People's Republic of China, National Museum of China (Art Exhibitions China)
With the Assistance of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Agency for Cultural Affairs, Embassy of the People's Republic of China, Japan-China Friendship Association, People's Daily
With the Sponsorship of Toyota Motor Corporation, Toppan Printing Co., Ltd., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., East Japan Railway Company
With the Cooperation of Kodansha Ltd, Shogakukan Inc., Nissay Dowa General Ins., All Nippon Airways
General Inquiries Tokyo National Museum
TEL. +81-3-3822-1111
Exhibition Web Site http://www.asahi.com/china/ (Japanese only)
The website has closed with the end of the exhibition.
Next Venue
The National Museum of Art, Osaka from January 18 to March 27, 2005
Related Events
*All events will be held in Japanese only without assistance in any other languages.
  Memorial lectures
"Chinese Buddhist Art"
by Koizumi Yoshihide (Curator of South Asian Art)
Auditorium, Heiseikan, Saturday, October 9, 2004
"Recent Archaeological Finds of the Chinese Archaeology"
by Tani Toyonobu (Senior Curator of Chinese Archaeology)
Auditorium, Heiseikan, Saturday, October 30, 2004
An Outline of the Exhibition and the Principal Works on Display
Recent Archaeological Finds
1. From the Late Neolithic to the Warring States Period
This section introduces outstanding works discovered in recent years at sites dating from the Late Neolithic period (c. 3500BC - 2000BC), which saw the first moves towards establishment of a national government in China, to the unification of the nation by Shihuangdi, the "First Emperor of Qin".

The twin peaks of Chinese fine and decorative arts during this period are represented by jade and bronze objects. In China, true jade vessels began to be produced in the latter part of the Neolithic era. The bronze vessels which put in an appearance around 2000 BC are at once excellent works of decorative art and important material for the study of history and early scripts. This section of the exhibition, while focusing on jade and bronze objects from each period, also includes various other interesting works.
Jade bird   Jade bird
Neolithic period, ca 3500 BC
From Lingjiatan site, Hanshan, Anhui province
Height 6.5cm
Liaoning Provincial Institute of Archaeology
Incense Burner   Exhibited first time ever in Japan
Incense Burner
Warring states period, 5th - 3rd century BC
From Yongcheng site, Fengxiang, Shaanxi province
Height 34.5cm
Fengxiang County Museum
2. From the Qin to the Tang Eras
This section presents first-rate pieces, principally human figures and jade objects, produced during the period following the unification of China by Shihuangdi (the First Emperor of Qin) in 221 BC, a period which saw the rise and fall of a succession of dynasties including Qin itself, Han and Tang.

The imperial mausoleum of Shihuangdi has yielded, not only the terra cotta figures of mounted horsemen already well known to the Japanese public, but a succession of unusual artefacts including life-size figures believed to represent civil servants, entertainers or wrestlers, and armor made of stone.

The Han period (3rd century BC to 3rd century AD) also saw the jade culture flourish; in their everyday lives, high-ranking nobles and aristocrats of the day were surrounded by high-quality jade articles. Around the same time, in Yunnan province in the southwest of China, a unique culture of bronze artefacts was flourishing. The colored figurines of the Tang period survive as reminders of the brilliance of that period's culture.
Stone Armor and Helmet   Exhibited first time ever in Japan
Stone Armor and Helmet

Qing dynasty, 3rd century B.C.
Armor: H. 75 cm, Weight 18 Kg; Helmet: H. 32 cm
From mausoleum of Qinshihuang, Xi'an, Shaanxi province
Qin Terra-cotta Museum
Jade Shroud sewn with gold wire   Exhibited first time ever in Japan
Jade Shroud sewn with gold wire

Eastern Han dynasty, 2nd century BC
From Shizishan, Xuzhou, Jiangsu province
Length 170cm
Xuzhou Museum
 Bronze cowry-container decorated with a hunting scene    Bronze cowry-container decorated with a hunting scene
Eastern Han dynasty, 2nd - 1st century BC
Shizaishan tomb 71, Jinning, Yunnan province
H. 64cm
Yunnan Provincial Institute of Archaeology
Terracotta figure of a heavenly king   Exhibited first time ever in Japan
Terracotta figure of a heavenly king

Tang dynasty, 8th century
From tomb 34, Northeastern College of Politics and Low, Xi'an, Shaanxi province
Hight 50cm (including the base)
Xi'an Municipal Institute of Archaeology and Preservation of Cultural Relics
Buddhist Art
1. The Introduction and Acceptance of Buddhism
(Later Han, Three Kingdoms, Jin; 2nd - early 5th centuries AD)
This section surveys works from the early days of Buddhism in China up to the fifth century, tracing the process whereby Buddhism was taken over in China.

Buddhism is believed to have arrived in China in the period from late Early Han to the beginning of Later Han (corresponding roughly to the beginning of the Christian era in the West). During the period from Later Han through the Three Kingdoms to Western Jin, a period which saw the general acceptance of Buddhism, the latter was taken over in forms that tied up with traditional Chinese ideas and religion; thus Buddhist figures were represented in similar terms to the traditional Chinese "immortals." In the succeeding Eastern Jin and Sixteen Kingdoms periods, the Buddhist faith began to spread to every part of China, large numbers of bronze Buddhas being made even among the non-Han peoples who controlled the northern part of China. Buddhist sculpture of this latter type shows stylistic links with the sculpture of Gandhara, and is interesting as illustrating one aspect of the situation affecting Buddhism at the time. In the latter half of the fourth century, the construction of the celebrated cave shrines at Tunghuan began, and from then on into the fifth century a full-fledged Buddhist religion spread rapidly to all parts of China.
  Exhibited first time ever in Japan
Base of Money Tree with Buddha Image
Eastern Han - Three Kingdoms Period, 2nd - 3rd century
From the Tomb 116, Pengshan, Sichuan Province
H. 21.3cm
Nanjing Museum
2.The Spread of Buddhism
(Northern and Southern dynasties; early 5th - late 6th century)
This section introduces the Buddhist art of the Northern and Southern dynasties, when China was split between the southern dynasty of the Han race and the northern dynasty ruled by northern, non-Han peoples.

The southern dynasty saw a succession of four kingdoms - Song, Qi, Liang, and Chen - the reign of the Emperor Wu of Liang (reigned 502-549) witnessing a particular flourishing of Buddhist culture. The northern dynasty saw the rise and fall of various kingdoms - Northern Wei, Eastern Wei, Western Wei, Northern Qi, and Northern Zhou - during which Buddhism flourished on a national scale and even permeated widely the ranks of the common people. Buddhist temples were built all over the country, and the construction of cave shrines flourished, Buddhist culture as a whole achieving an unprecedented scope. The Buddhist sculpture of this period demonstrates a three-stage transformation, from imitation of imported styles to the formation of independent Chinese styles, and finally to a second influx of foreign styles, while Buddhist figures evincing regional characteristics were also produced in large numbers.
  Standing Buddha Triad
Northern Wei Dynasty, 6th century
Qi county, Henan Province
H. 96cm
Henan Museum
Standing Boddhisattva (detail),   Exhibited first time ever in Japan
Standing Boddhisattva
Eastern Wei Dynasty, 6th century
Excavated from Longxingsi, Qingzhou, Shangdong province
H. 110 cm
Qingzhou Municipal Museum
  Exhibited first time ever in Japan
Seated Bodhisattva with one leg pendant
Northen Wei Dynasty, 6th century Excavated from Longxingsi
Qingzhou, Shangdong province
H. 68cm
Qingzhou Municipal Museum
3. The Heyday of Buddhism
(Sui, Tang, Five Dynasties, and Northern Song; late 6th century - early 12th century)
This section illustrates the richness of form and the brilliance of the period from Sui to Northern Song, which saw the heyday of Chinese Buddhism.

The Sui dynasty, which brought the antagonisms of the Northern and Southern dynasties era to an end and unified the whole of China, saw Buddhist culture, as in the previous age, at a height of achievement. Temples were newly built or added to on a nationwide scale, and the Tang dynasty, which controlled still wider areas than Sui, carried its example still further. The towns teemed with Buddhist temples and monks in their tens of thousands, and Buddhist culture enjoyed an unprecedented prosperity. The Buddhist statuary of this period was subjected to new influences from the west, acquiring a new, richly cosmopolitan coloring and developing a pervasively realistic style. From the late Tang period through Five Dynasties and on into Northern Song, signs of change appeared in Chinese Buddhism, which gradually mingled with Taoist and other indigenous and traditional folk beliefs to form a unique form of Buddhism unlike anything seen before, while secular elements came to be strongly reflected in the style of Buddhist statuary.
Buddha   Buddha
Tang Dynasty, dated 710
Ruicheng, Shanxi Province
Ruicheng Xian Wenwu Baoguansuo
Fragment of Amitabha Sutra with illustration   Exhibited first time ever in Japan
Fragment of Amitabha Sutra with illustration
Tang Dynasty, 9th century
Ink and color on paper
Longquan Pagoda, Lishui, Zhejiang Province
29.3 x 45.8cm
Zhejiang Provincial Museum
Acuoye Guanyin   Exhibited first time ever in Japan
Acuoye Guanyin
Dali period, 10th - 12th century
Gold and Silver
Main stupa of Chongshengsi temple, Dali, Yunnan Province
H. 24cm
Yunnan Provincial Museum
4. The Worship of Buddhist Relics
(Tang, Five Dynasties, Northern Song; 7th - early 12th early centuries)
Following the death of Sakyamuni, his ashes were divided into eight portions which attracted popular worship in various parts of India. The recipients of the relics, it is said, built Buddhist stupas which became objects of great devotion. In China itself, there is evidence that supposed Buddhist relics were worshiped from the earliest phase of the introduction of the religion, and stupas were erected to enshrine them. Throughout the ensuing ages, the worship of such relics intensified, and by the Tang period had attained nationwide proportions.

The forthcoming exhibition will provide a survey of the worship of relics and stupas in China, with the focus on various types of reliquary and other receptacles discovered in Buddhist stupas, particularly of the period from Tang through Five Kingdoms and Northern Song, when the worship of Buddhist relics spread widely among the common people.
  Chang GanSi's Silver Sarira Casket
Tang Dynasty, 9th century
From the Pagoda of Ganlusi temple, Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province
H. 11.6cm
Zhenjiang Municipal Museum