Members-Only Exhibition OpeningVIEW EVENT DETAILS
Buddha, Sage of the Shakya Clan: Masterworks from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
While the actual life events of Shakyamuni Buddha are not well documented, there are several legendary stories that contain significant moments of his life. In this exhibition, we focus on the “Eight Great Events.” This story of the Buddha’s life is depicted in scenes having origins from early Indian Buddhism, which became codified in a visual language by around 100 AD. Prior to that time, only aniconic images of these events existed: wheels, footprints, parasols, and riderless horses were used to symbolize the Buddha rather than figurative representations.
The scenes illustrated in Buddha, Sage of the Shakya Clan: Masterworks from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection began to appear by the second century in Mathura (in modern-day Uttar Pradesh) and within the Buddhist centers of the Gandharan Kingdom (areas in modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan). The sculptures and paintings on display depict some or all of the “Eight Great Events.”
The main sources of these events are ancient Indian Buddhist texts, which were originally transmitted orally and later written down. These texts include the Pali Canon, which is the primary scripture of Theravada Buddhism, composed in the Pali language, and the Buddhist texts of Mahayana Buddhism composed in the Sanskrit language. The Pali Canon texts (such as the Digha Nikaya, the Majjhima Nikaya, and the Vinaya Pitaka) describe the Buddha’s birth, his early life as a prince, his renunciation of the world, his enlightenment, and his teaching career. The Mahayana texts (such as the Lotus Sutra, the Avatamsaka Sutra, and the Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra) also provide detailed accounts of the Buddha’s life, but they tend to include more mythological elements and supernatural events.
6:00 - 8:00 PM Members Opening Reception
6:15 PM; 7:00 PM; 7:30PM - Docent Tours
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