Sunday, April 13, 2014

Secret of the Fallen Pagoda - Treasures from Famen Temple and the Tang Court

A Buddha's true finger relic was discovered in the crypt of the fallen Famen Temple Pagoda in 1980s.  It was one of the few true relics from Buddha himself.  Together with the discovery of the relic, a large amount of treasures from the Tang Imperial Court were also discovered, including some items that people could only read from historical records, but had never seen any physical items before.  

Singaporeans are really lucky, Asia Civilisation Museum is bringing all that treasure to Singapore, and you don't have to travel for thousands of miles to witness the beauty of such treasure. 

The first item that caught my attention is this silver gilded incense burner.  It roughly has 3 layers from top to bottom, representing the ancients view of the world, which consists of heaven, human realm, and the underworld.  The details are fascinating, they are elaborate and great attentions were paid to the minor details.  

The second item that drew my attention was the basin decorated with Mandarin Ducks.  The ducks are so lively, as if they were playing with water right there.  Mandarin ducks in Chinese culture signifies the love & harmony among couples.  I would guess it was an item from the Tang Imperial Court, considering the lavish use of precious metals, as well as the great craftsmanship. 

Next comes the silver reliquary, which is the 2nd layer (counting from outside) of reliquary which contains the Buddha's finger relic.  

Then comes one of the most precious items in the find, the 'secret ceramic'.   

This ordinary looking bottle is one and the only one 'secret ceramic' on display.  It looks very normal, nothing exceptional, but the difference is in the details.  The biggest difficulties in ceramic making is the or uniform is the color, especially when the entire item is of one single color only.  This 'secret ceramic' bottle, commissioned by and only for the Tang Imperial Court, is one of the rare physical items that people can witness.  No other items survived the test of time in the past thousand years or so.  

Another item that looks very ordinary now, but it was considered to be a treasure is this colored glass bottle.  Tang Dynasty was the period Chinese culture was much more open to foreign cultures.  This bottle is said to come from modern day Syria- Palestine region.  

The exhibition is on until 4 May, 2014, which is less than a month from now.  It is worthwhile to pay it a visit and be awed by the great craftsmanship of our ancestors.  

Admission is not free for all, but they have lots of those promotional cards hanging in north-east line MRT trains.  Each card entitles free entry for a maximum of four visitors.

No comments:

Post a Comment