By Jinah Kim, Gardner Cowles Associate Professor of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University
Kim received a SAI Faculty Grant for her research on Indian painting.
A first major loan exhibition of Indian art in Beijing, China is currently held in the majestic Meridian gate tower of the Palace Museum (September 28, 2016- January 3 2017) of the Forbidden City (see a virtual tour of the exhibition here.) “Across the Silk Road: Gupta Sculptures and their Chinese Counterparts during 400 to 700CE” is an ambitious exhibition conceived by the senior curatorial fellow of the Palace Museum, Dr. Lou Wenhua, after his visit to India over 3 years ago. Fifty-six sculptures from nine Indian Museums are on display against a red backdrop in one gallery, while two adjacent galleries are filled with over one hundred Chinese Buddhist sculptures against blue backdrop. Bringing this exhibition together is an impressive feat by the organizers in Beijing, which, of course, was not possible without collaborative efforts from many museum personnel and officers in India.
When the China-India bilateral relationship is not as rosy and warm as anticipated (i.e. India’s failed entry into the NSG at the Seoul plenary, CPEC [China Pakistan Economic Corridor] developments—part of President Xie Jinping’s Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Maritime Silk Road projects), the exhibition reminds us of the age old connections between the two countries, notably activated and solidified through the transmission of Buddhism. It also opens up new possibilities of trans-regional connections for the future that may benefit tremendously from mutual understanding of each other’s culture and history.