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Enlightened Beings: Buddhism in Chinese Painting

September 1, 2012–March 10, 2013
Freer Gallery of Art

Buddhism arrived in China during the first century CE and quickly grew in popularity, exerting a profound impact on all aspects of Chinese art and culture. Enlightenment is the cornerstone of Buddhist thought and practice. Accordingly, the exhibition focuses on four main categories of enlightened being: the Buddha himself; bodhisattvas, devoted to the salvation of all sentient beings; luohan, who protect the dharma, or teachings of the Buddha; and eccentric Chan (Zen) monks and lineage masters. Fourteen of the twenty-seven works on display date to the Song, Yuan, and early Ming dynasties (1000–1400 CE), and the remainder are from the fifteenth to nineteenth century during the later Ming and Qing.

Right: Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva; China, Dunhuang, Northern Song dynasty, late 10th–early 11th century; ink, color, and gold on silk; purchase, F1935.11
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The Freer|Sackler is closed for renovation and reinstallation. The popular exhibition Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan is still on view in the International Gallery. (Enter through the Ripley Center.) Join us for our reopening celebration on October 14–15, 2017.