Past Exhibitions

Indigo Blue Sutra Manuscripts: Ornamenting the Buddha's Sacred Words
January 2, 2019 - February 3, 2019

The Ceramics gallery is currently being used to display Calligraphy.

What makes these sutra manuscripts special? The most obvious characteristic is the dark blue indigo-dyed paper upon which they are inscribed. But also notice the color of the sacred texts. The Chinese characters, read top to bottom, right to left, are written in columns of gold, silver, or alternating gold and silver paints. These metallic paints, made by mixing fine metallic dust with gelatinous animal glue, are also used to illustrate elaborate frontispiece images. Sutras are Buddhism's sacred scriptures and supposedly record the actual sermons of the Buddha—often described as the Buddha's "golden words." Here, that metaphor is brought to life. In addition, after inscribing the characters onto the paper, scribes used boar tusks to polish the gold, making the characters glitter even more—a most auspicious analogy to wish our visitors a Happy Year of the Wild Boar.

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