Travelogues

National Palace Museum – Buddhist Relics 佛光普照

The Manchurian emperors of Qing dynasty were staunch believers of Buddhism, and this fervent belief resulted in one of the best collections of buddhist relics in National Palace Museum.

Buddhist sculptures arose out of the belief system that produced them. They are derived from the iconography in Buddhist sutras. Buttressed by the popular religious concepts of the time, they aptly convey the spiritual content in which the religion is rooted.

Believers thought that the production of these sculptures would bring about good fortune; practitioners meditated with these images in order to bring about a deeper understanding and wisdom. Religious sermons made use of such profound sculptures to align and intensify the believers’ conception of the Buddhist realm. 

Among single Buddhist sculptures, one often finds sculptures of the Buddha, Buddhist monks, Bodhisattvas and guardian deities.

Bodhisattvas were made in the image of a secular, royal prince—having reached Buddhahood, they chose to stay in this world in order to assist those who have not.

Gilt bronze Shakyamuni Buddha
Tibet, 15th-16th century

The Buddha is at the core of the belief and represents the attainment of enlightenment. Disciples rendered in the form of monks transmitted his teachings after his death.

Guardian deities look ferocious, but they avert physical enemies and internal demons.

Stupa, Gilt Bronze
Ming dynasty, dated 1631 C.E. mark of Ch’ung-chen reign 4th year

Then there are stupas, representing Nirvana. All these come together to compose the fundamental elements of Buddhist art.

These three statues of Buddhas were placed outside the regular exhibition hall because of their sheer size. The middle Buddha is two storey tall.

About the National Palace Museum

The National Palace Museum (國立故宮博物院) was originally founded within the walls of the Beijing Forbidden City in 1925, the present-day National Palace Museum moved to Taipei’s Shilin District following the Republic of China government relocation in 1949 with an official opening for the public in 1965.

Over 600,000 of the most precious artefacts within the collection were moved to Taiwan to prevent their desecration during and after the Chinese Civil War. 

Due to the enormous numbers of collection spreads over 4 floors and 2 exhibition halls, the museum’s exhibits continuously rotate, as only a small percentage of the museum’s collection can be displayed at a given time to prevent wear and tear, so there will always be a new series of collection being exhibited on each visit! 

National Palace Museum
No.221, Sec. 2, Zhishan Rd., Shilin Dist., Taipei City 111001, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Tel : 886-2-2881-2021

Date Visited : Oct 2018

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