Treasures of China exhibited at TheMuseum
TheMuseum in Kitchener opened their newest exhibition last Sunday with a ceremony and blessing, an honour that not every exhibit demands. However, this was a special case. It marked the beginning of an exhibition featuring the rarely seen Dazu Rock Carvings from China.
The ceremony featured traditional dancing, a blessing done by the FoGuang Shan Temple of Toronto, and many speakers, including supporters of TheMuseum, local politicians, and more. TheMuseum was filled with suits and high heels; the atmosphere alone marked the significance of this event. The process of bringing the rock carvings to Canada was long, and those involved were eager to celebrate.
“The Treasures of China” is an extremely important exhibit and a privilege for The Museum to display. The Dazu Rock Carvings hold strong religious importance. They depict images that come from Buddhist, Confucian, and Taoist traditions. This was noted at the opening ceremony with an incense offering, a homage to the Shakyamuni Buddha, chanting, and prayer. They emphasized that through the arts, the Buddhist teachings of compassion and care can be brought to all cultures.
Many of the statues are over 1000 years old, some dating as far back as the seventh century. Despite this, they are well preserved.
The exhibition in Kitchener represents only a fraction of the carvings in China; there are over 50,000 statues in 75 protected sites, and TheMuseum’s exhibition has 48 statues. However, this is only the second time any of the statues have left China, making this exhibition extremely important for Kitchener and for building ties between Canada and China.
Chinese visitors were not allowed to visit the site until 1961, and foreign visitors were not allowed to visit until 1980 in order to help conserve these important pieces of culture. Seeing these pieces at all is still a novelty.
One of the speakers at the opening ceremony was Michael Chan, the Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Sport.
“This was an enormous undertaking ... it is truly an international exchange,” Chan said.
Chan tied the exhibit to the community at the University of Waterloo, noting that this exhibit is significant to a university and community where so many people of Chinese heritage are present.
He also recognized that the statues were recognized as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations in 1999, solidifying their importance to the international community.
“I know this exhibit will be of interest to those of Chinese descent, but to everyone else as well,” said the Mayor of Kitchener, Carl Zehr. “Enjoy the exhibit, and don’t forget to tell your friends about it.”
The exhibition runs until March 17, 2013, and is located at The Museum on 10 King Street West, Kitchener.