Amida Buddha with Attending Bodhisattvas
Amida Buddha with Attending Bodhisattvas
Japan, Edo period, late 18th century
Wood with gold, pigment, metal, and headstones, 22 x 18 x 9 in.
San Antonio Museum of Art, gift of Lenora and Walter F. Brown, 2013.38.262
Photography by Peggy Tenison
Copy of the Scroll of the Extermination of Evil (Hekija-e) and of the Hell Scroll (Jigoku-e)
Copy of the Scroll of the Extermination of Evil (Hekija-e) and of the Hell Scroll (Jigoku-e)
Japan, Edo period–Meiji era, 19th century
Handscroll; ink and color on paper, 10 11/16 x 376 3/8 in.
Museum of Fine Arts Boston, William Sturgis Bigelow Collection, 11.9186
Photograph © 2017 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Eighteen Arhats detail
Eighteen Arhats (Iuohans)
China, Qing dynasty, Reign of the Qianlong emperor, 1736–1795
Ink and colors on bodhi leaves; eighteen leaves, each 11 x 7 in.
Courtesy of Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, The Avery Brundage Collection, B65D4.1-.18
Photography © Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
The Hell Courtesan
Yōshū Chikanobu (Hashimoto Chikanobu), Japanese (1838–1912)
The Hell Courtesan (Jigoku-dayū)
Japanese, Edo period–Meiji era, latter half of the 19th century.
Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk, image: 57 3/16 x 28 1/8 in.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, William Sturgis Bigelow Collection, 11.7329
Photograph © 2017 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Nirvana
Mariko Mori, (Japanese, born 1967)
Nirvana, 1996–97
Video, Six minutes, six seconds
The Mori Art Collection, Tokyo
© Mariko Mori
Bowing Buddha (photo Ylva) cornell
Bowing Buddha
Japan, Edo period, 17th-18th century
Gilt wood, 28 x 14 x 9 in.
Vanessa and Henry Cornell Collection
Photography by Ylva Erevall Photography
Thinking Bodhisattva
Thinking Bodhisattva
India, Gupta period, 4th–6th century C.E.
Afghanistan, Hadda region, Gandharan culture
Terracotta, 32 ¾ x 24 ½ x 10 ½ in.
Dallas Museum of Art, Wendover Fund, gift of David T. Owsley via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation, the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, and the General Acquisitions Fund, 2010.17
Photo courtesy Dallas Museum of Art

Heaven and Hell: Salvation and Retribution in Pure Land Buddhism

June 16 – September 10, 2017

Cowden Gallery

On June 16, the San Antonio Museum of Art will present Heaven and Hell: Salvation and Retribution in Pure Land Buddhism, the first exhibition in the U.S. to explore in detail one of the most popular forms of Buddhism throughout Asia.

Featuring approximately 70 works—including paintings, sculpture, and decorative objects—the exhibition contrasts the visions of heaven and hell, ideas that are central to Pure Land Buddhism. Curated by Dr. Emily Sano, PhD, the Coates-Cowden-Brown Senior Advisor for Asian Art at the San Antonio Museum of Art, the exhibition features some of the most stunning examples of works created as part of the sect's devotional and funerary traditions. They are drawn from twenty private collections and institutions across the country and world as well as the Museum’s own Asian collections. Heaven and Hell will be on view through September 10, 2017.

Originally developed in West Asia during the early years of the Common Era, Pure Land Buddhism spread across Central Asia to China and into Tibet, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, pulling in and incorporating the gods and figures of local faiths in each new culture. One figure, Amitābha, the Buddha of the Western Paradise, remained at the center of the Pure Land faith, promising salvation in his heavenly paradise to anyone who simply calls his name. This promise of salvation and an escape from the pain of hell—even to those who led less than exemplary lives—helped Pure Land Buddhism flourish and expand throughout Asia. In contrast, the more traditional Theravada Buddhism held that nirvana could only be obtained through devout study and meditation.

"Heaven and Hell provides a dynamic and in-depth view of Pure Land Buddhism, highlighting the way different cultures adopted and adapted the faith," said Sano. "Its adherents found commonality in inspiration and devotion, while also contributing their local beliefs and imagery to the practice." The result is a richness of both religious narrative and imagery that makes for compelling viewing, including in rituals that continue to the present day. The exhibition explores these different regional approaches, and the evolution of devotional art as Pure Land Buddhism moved eastwards across Asia.

Lenders to the exhibition include the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Cleveland Art Museum, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Philadelphia Art Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Birmingham Museum of Art, and the Dallas Museum of Art. Curated by Emily Sano, PhD, the Coates-Cowden-Brown Senior Advisor for Asian Art at the San Antonio Museum of Art, and the former director of the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, the exhibition will also be accompanied by a catalog.