Rare collection of monks’ art goes on show

A monk browses the art show at the Cultural Palace of Nationalities on Saturday. More than 200 works of calligraphy and paintings, some by China’s well-known monks, are part of a five-day exhibition. [Liu Zhen / for China Daily]

BEIJING – More than 200 works of calligraphy and paintings, some by China’s most prestigious monks, debuted at the Cultural Palace of Nationalities on Saturday.

The five-day exhibition, organized by the Buddhist Association of China, offers fans a closer look at authentic artworks by China’s renowned Buddhists, such as the writings of 11th Panchen Lama Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu and 84-year-old Dharma Master Chuan Yin.

According to the association, 174 people have contributed works, including abbots of many famous temples. Among the 203 items on display, 171 are works of calligraphy and 32 are paintings.

Prior to the Beijing show, the pieces were on show at Lingshan Mountain in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, in late July.

“The event is aimed at a combination of spreading the Buddha’s spirit of benevolence and putting the religious belief into practice,” Master Xue Cheng, vice-president of the association, said at the opening ceremony on Saturday.

Works will be sold at auction for charity after the exhibition, said Wang Jian, secretary-general of the association. A scroll of calligraphy by Dharma Master Chuan Yin, for example, has a starting price of 250,000 yuan ($39,100).

“We plan to use the funds to build a small nursing home in a Beijing suburb, which can accommodate about 100 aged monks and their elderly relatives,” Wang said.

He added that the association initiated the campaign because more monks now face difficulties supporting elderly parents.

“We hope the campaign can raise awareness of the problem of supporting elderly religious persons,” he said.

The palace exhibition has so far attracted art lovers and charitable guests in equal measure.

“Chinese Buddhism has a long tradition of using handwriting and painting as a way to spread Buddha’s wisdom, so many monks have masterly skills in the arts,” said Sang Ji Zha Xi, director of the editorial board of The Voice of Dharma, a monthly religion magazine.

“It’s rare to have so many works collected and shown to the public,” he said.

China Daily

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