According to sacred texts, the historical Buddha encouraged his disciples to make pilgrimages to sites associated with his life. As sacred images of the Buddha proliferated over time, it is said that his relics were divided among 84,000 South Asian sites of Buddhist worship, or stupas. This abundance of sacred sites in turn rendered pilgrimage and worship increasingly prominent influences on Asian culture and daily life.
Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art employs sacred objects, textiles, sculpture, manuscripts, and paintings to discuss the relationship between Buddhist pilgrimage and Asia’s artistic production. Accompanying an exhibition of approximately 90 extraordinary objects, many of which have never before been displayed publicly, this book addresses the process of the sacred journey in its entirety, including discussion of pilgrimage motivation, ritual preparation, and worship at the sacred destination. Exceptional and visually stunning examples of painted mandalas, reliquaries, prayer wheels, and traveling shrines demonstrate that pilgrims and pilgrimage inspired centuries of artistic production and shaped the development of visual culture in Asia.
Through insightful essays by a team of scholars, Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art illuminates artwork’s complex role in Buddhist culture, in which art serves as a form of memory and a bridge to the spiritual world as well as a functional tool with temporal purposes.
This catalog accompanies the exhibition of the same name held at the Asia Society Museum, New York City, through June 20, 2010. The Buddhist pilgrimage tradition began with journeys to important places in the Buddha's life and expanded to incorporate local practices as Buddhism spread through South Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Himalayas. Sacred objects tell stories of pilgrimages not in words but with textiles, sculpture, manuscripts, metalwork, and paintings. Signed and footnoted essays by art historians, researchers, and curators include in-text photos and objects and discuss popular destinations; involvement of mind and body; Tibetan shrines and songs; Thai, Japanese, and Chinese destinations; and cave chapels. Each of the 93 catalog entries is signed and footnoted and includes at least one full-color image. An English-language glossary shows the original Sanskrit for Romanized terms. VERDICT For special collections, art faculty and students, and readers especially interested in Buddhism or Asian art.—Nancy J. Mactague, Aurora Univ. Lib., IL