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Buddhism was created in ancient India by Sakyamuni in the period between 5th and 6th century B.C. It was one of the three main international religions of which the other two were Islam and Christianity. In the process of its spreading, three new major schools of Buddhism: Han-Chinese Buddhism, Hinayana Buddhism (Little Vehicle) and Tibetan Buddhism gradually came into being after accepting the elements of local cultural features. Han-Chinese Buddhism referred to one school of Buddhism which was introduced into China via the Silk Road in the Han Dynasty and regarded at the early stage as witchcraft. It took its root in the Sixteen Kingdoms Period of Eastern Jin, sprouted and flourished on this piece of land—China since then on the basis of promotion by the ruling classes, finally joined the main stream of Chinese civilization and became an indispensable part of Chinese culture.
Gansu, located on the eastern part of ancient continental Silk Road, had been the key position and a gateway from the Western Region to the Central Plain of China also a leading edge for the spreading of Buddhism to other parts of China, thus it had been a place where Buddhist art and Han-Chinese culture met and mingled. We have selected with utmost care over 100 pieces (groups) of Buddhist cultural relics dating from the Sixteen Kingdoms Period to the Ming and Qing dynasties covering about 1,700 years from the abundant cultural relics collection of Gansu Provincial Museum in order to prepared for the public this exhibition wishing to show Chinese Buddhist culture at the same time providing an opportunity for the visitors to experience religious, academic and artistic value of Buddhism.
The exhibition Buddhist Solemnity and Majesty — Buddhist Art of Gansu consists of six units: Eastward Introduction of Buddhism — Han Dynasty, Sixteen Kingdoms Period, Development of Buddhist Art — Southern & Northern Dynasties, Golden Age of Buddhism — Sui and Tang Dynasties, Prosperous Period of Tibetan Buddhism — Yuan, Ming, Qing Dynasties and Treasures Found in LibraryCave of Mogao Grottoes. Almost all sorts of Buddhist cultural relics such as statue from Buddhist grottoes, monomer statue, statue stela, statue pagoda, painted brick, Buddhist sutra and other miscellaneous Buddhist cultural relics included into this exhibition show 1700-year history of spreading and development of Buddhism in Gansu from Sixteen Kingdoms Period to Ming and Qing dynasties. The exhibiting hall with natual light was used to creat a space filled with atmosphere of Buddhist art together with artificial light, most representative Buddhist elements and large-scale replicated scenes. Visitors can feel more naturally and vividly the charm of buddhist art in the exhibiting hall by taking part in the interaction activities provided by using new concept of exhibiting, new way of designing and displaying and modern technique.
The exhibition Buddhist Solemnity and Majesty — Buddhist Art of Gansu won the national award of ninth Ten Excellent Exhibitions for the year 2009-2010 due to its distinctive theme, rich content, unique design, superior making, diversified services and popularization toward the public.