The Asia Society Museum is presenting a landmark exhibition, called the Buddhist Art of Myanmar, with spectacular works from Myanmar and the United States. The Buddhist Art of Myanmar collection is comprised of approximately seventy works from the fifth through the early twentieth century. It includes stone, bronze, and lacquered wood sculptures as well as textiles, paintings, and ritual implements. Most of the works in the exhibition are on loan from Myanmar and have never been seen in the West. The exhibition has been organized by guest curators Sylvia Fraser-Lu and Donald M. Stadtner along with Adriana Proser, Asia Society’s John H. Foster Senior Curator for Traditional Asian Art.
On view in New York from February 10 through May 10, 2015, the exhibition showcases Buddhist objects created for temples, monasteries, and personal devotion, presented in their historical and ritual contexts. They highlight the long and continuous presence of Buddhism in Myanmar since the first millennium.
The exhibition is organized into three sections—Images of the Buddha, Lives of the Buddha, and Devotion and Ritual—which showcase the multiplicity of styles throughout the country, in part a reflection of the localization of religious practice. The objects reflect the historical social and political environment of Myanmar. Issues such as state support of Buddhism, the effects of trade and international relations, and the role of local myths and ethnicity are depicted in the works.
A fully illustrated catalogue, co-published by Asia Society and Yale University Press, accompanies the exhibition and features new photography of the loans from Myanmar. The book is the first publication to critically examine works of art from Myanmar with contributions by art historians, historians, and religious studies specialists. It includes scholarly essays and an extensive bibliography. It also has a glossary of Myanmar, Pali, and Sanskrit terms along with geographical, historical, and religious names and places, and mythical figures.
Ajay Ghosh is a Senior Editor at Universal Mirror and the Chief Editor at Asian Era. He has a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the School of Journalism at Marquette University and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. Ghosh has worked as a freelance writer on social issues for numerous publications.