images: Heaven, Earth, and Beyond: Prints and Illustrations of Confucian, Buddhist, and Taoist Figures
 
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Selection: Introduction
Selection: Legends of Buddhas and Deities
Selection: The Mysterious Path to Immortality
Selection: Surpassing the Ordinary and Transforming into a Sages
Selection: Home
 
 
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Title: Introduction

Confucian, Buddhist and Daoist philosophies form the foundation of Chinese culture.

Confucianism, a school of thought founded by Confucius (551-479 BCE), places humaneness at the top of the standard of morality. It emphasizes governing the country with propriety and reaching universality through personal virtue. Emperor Wudi of the Han dynasty dismissed all other schools of thought and exclusively followed the teachings of Confucius, bringing Confucianism into the mainstream of traditional Chinese culture.

The founders of Daoist philosophy, Laozi (of the Spring and Autumn period) and Zhuangzi (369-286 BCE), advocated that people should follow "Dao" or the "path" by revering nature and practicing a peaceful and "inactive" way of life. Toward the end of the Eastern Han, Zhang Daoling (34-156 CE) and others used the philosophies of Daoism and assimilated ancient beliefs of deities, spirits, and ghosts to form the Daoist religion. They promoted the idea that people could reach enlightenment and become immortals through praying to and summoning gods and spirits.   

Buddhism originated from India, and was founded by Śākyamuni (ca. 565-486 BCE) in the sixth century BCE. When it was first introduced into China during the Han dynasty, its teachings collided with China's cultural traditions. However, through continuous learning and integration on both sides, the main customs, practices, and beliefs of Buddhism, such as the six samara and karma, became deeply ingrained into the minds of the Chinese people and incorporated into their culture and traditions.

The National Palace Museum has a rich collection of Confucian, Buddhist and Daoist texts, which are accompanied by many beautiful prints of sages, monks, guardians, deities, immortals, and fairies. There are also images illustrating loyal and courageous men and women fighting for justice, miracles of Buddha rescuing people from hardships, and legends of Daoist priests exorcising devils and evil spirits. These works are presented in a righteous, dignified, and compassionate manner. Their features are lifelike, and the scenes deeply inspiring and moving.

For this exhibition, dozens of the finest illustrated works have been selected to go on display. Apart from bearing witness to the great achievements of printmaking in ancient China, they also allow the audience to gain a deeper understanding of Confucian, Buddhist and Daoist philosophies through the characters and stories featured within. Lastly, they pay tribute to the sages and scholars of the past, while effectively conveying the ideals of human interactions and relationships.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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