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   Journey to the West is a novel, containing many anecdotes and dramatic additions from popular tradition, loosely based on the pilgrimage of the Buddhist monk Hsüan-tsang (600-664) to India to acquire scriptures (sutras) during the Chen-kuan era (627-649) of the T'ang dynasty. The contents narrate the story of how the T'ang Monk and his three disciples traveled west to India to get original sutras, encountering many perils and dangers on their journey before finally fulfilling their mission. In the Ming dynasty, Wu Ch'eng-en (ca. 1500-1582), after years of gathering different versions of story-telling scripts and folklore about the pilgrimage, made a compilation and adaptation into this novel. Using his extraordinary artistic talents supported by a vividly fanciful imagination, he was able to create a remarkably engaging story with unique characters combining various personality traits, supernatural powers, and attributes of animals. With his ingeniously satirical and humorous style of writing, Wu conceived of a fantastic and transformational world of wonder. Journey to the West not only has become one of the most popular and well-known tales in Chinese culture, it has also found a wide audience among foreign audiences.

   This exhibition includes a special selection from the Museum collection of Buddhist and Taoist figure paintings on subjects appearing in the novel Journey to the West, a Wan-li era (1573-1619) illustrated imprint from the Ming dynasty by the Shih-te Hall, and the exceptional "Album on Journey to the West" by the modern master P'u Hsin-yü that has been entrusted by the Cold Jade Hall to the Museum. It is hoped that viewers appreciate these works like a marvelously illustrated handscroll of the novel being unrolled before one's eyes, highlighting some of the lively and spirited forms of memorable figures and marvelous scenes from Journey to the West.

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