Title: Guidebooks to Life: The Scriptures of Asia

Image_The Tripitaka in Tibetan

One of the origins for ancient civilization is located in Asia. The thinking and wisdom engendered on its soil have not only long forged its way of life, laws and institutions, but influenced all of humanity.

In the beginning, these thoughts and wisdom were mostly passed down by word of mouth, but written records were eventually, gradually adopted and compiled into books, which became revered as scriptures, and passed down from generation to generation. To get to know these scriptures is therefore undoubtedly the most direct and effective way to understand Asia.

This exhibition first chooses scriptures from four of Asia’s most influential and still flourishing cultural systems - Confucian School, Taoist School, Buddhism and Islam. Apart from observing their essential meanings and viewing them as guides to life, one can also pursue different fusions and synergies in their various texts, while their decorative splendor, and the preciousness of the materials from which they were made, as well as the great reverence in which they are held and the piety with which their adherents believe and for which they are renowned, all crafted the aesthetic tastes and book manufacturing techniques of different regions and times.

In sum, the scriptures constitute philosophies that provide guidance in life and more; works of art that do more than please the eye and ear.

The TripiTaka in Tibetan  New window

The TripiTaka in Tibetan
Handwritten gold ink edition for imperial court

Prajñāpāramitā-hRdaya-sūtra  New window

Handwritten edition by Tung
C’hi-ch’ang (1555-1636)

VinayapiTaka : Khandaka : Cūlavagga  New window

Vinayapitaka : Khandaka : Cūlavagga
li text in Myanmar
Myanmar palm-leaf manuscripts, curved in 1926
Donated by Mr. Lu Chung-hsiüng

Buddhism is a religion that was established in the fifth century BC by the Indian, Sakyamuni. It is one of the three great religions of the world. Its followers are spread throughout East and South Asia. It advocates to escape pain, experience pleasure and attest to the fruits of Buddhism. The Buddhist canon (the Great Canon) consists of texts of many different languages. Those exhibited on this occasion include the Burmese Palm Leaves Manuscripts of Theravada Buddhism, Prajñāpāramitā-hRdaya-sūtra of Chinese Buddhism, and Tibetan bkav-vgyur of Tibetan Buddhism.

Islam was founded by Mohammed (570-632) in the seventh century on the Arabian Peninsula, and calls for belief in the view that there is no god but God (Allah), and requires followers to hold the Six Articles of Belief and practice the Five Pillars of Islam. Not long after Islam was established it spread westwards. Currently its followers extend all over north Africa, western Asia, central Asia, southern Asia, south-east Asia, China and so on. The most important scripture of Islam is Al-Qur’an. In this exhibition we exhibit original text of Al-Qur’an and interpreted manuscript.

PaTthāna – Nissaya  New window

PaTthāna – Nissaya
Myanmar- Pāli text in Myanmar
Myamar palm-leaf manuscripts, engraved in 1885 & 1917
Donated by Mr. Lu Chung-hsiüng

Qur'an in bihari script with commentary  New window

Qur'an in bihari script with commentary
Handwritten edition, ca. 1500