Dunhuang Academy Director Attends Opening of Lotus Sutra Exhibition in Kobe
On August 25, the "Lotus Sutra--A Message of Peace and Harmonious Coexistence" exhibition, co-organized by the Institute of Oriental Philosophy (IOP) and Soka Gakkai, opened to the public at the Kansai International Culture Center in Kobe, Japan. The exhibition contains some 150 items, such as photographs and panels introducing the history and transmission of the Lotus Sutra, and facsimile editions of Lotus Sutra manuscripts as part of the Lotus Sutra Manuscript Series. Panel images include wall paintings from the historic Dunhuang Caves in China (c. 300-1300 AD) which depict the seven parables contained in the Lotus Sutra.
Fan Jinshi, director of Dunhuang Academy; Liu Yongzeng, director of Dunhuang Academy's Archaeological Research Institute; Shigenobu Kimura, emeritus director of Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art; Tsutomu Shiobara, emeritus professor of Osaka University, and 170 other guests attended the official inauguration on August 23.
At a special lecture also organized by IOP and Soka Gakkai at the same venue on August 23, Ms. Fan spoke on the ancient town of Dunhuang--located in the Gobi Desert in northwestern China--as an important gateway to the West, a center of commerce along the Silk Road, and a mecca for religious and cultural exchange. The most prominent site in Dunhuang, the Dunhuang Caves (also known as the Mogao Caves), form an ancient Buddhist site containing 492 decorated cave temples, some 45,000 square meters of wall paintings, and over 2,400 multicolored sculptures comprising the largest body of Buddhist art in China. The art treasures were a product of the transmission of Buddhism to China via the Silk Road, from where the philosophy spread throughout the Far East, absorbing other influences along the way. The site is a significant record of a millennium of cultural exchange between China, India, Persia, the Greco-Roman region, and Central Asia.
In his message at the inauguration, Mr. Liu shared that Kumarajiva's translation of the Lotus Sutra arrived in Dunhuang not long after it was translated in 406 AD, at which point it was reproduced and spread widely. He highlighted that over 5,000 relics in the Dunhuang Caves are directly related to the Lotus Sutra, indicating the profound appeal of its teachings. He expressed his hope that the Lotus Sutra exhibition would serve to promote a greater understanding of the shared history between China and Japan and thereby further strengthen ties of friendship between the two nations.
On August 24, Ms. Fan and Mr. Liu visited the Soka Gakkai Headquarters in Tokyo, and met with Soka Gakkai President Minoru Harada. Ms. Fan expressed her appreciation for SGI President Ikeda's efforts to promote peace and cultural exchange throughout the world. She recalled how Mr. Ikeda suggested holding an exhibition on the Dunhuang Caves, organized by the Dunhuang Academy, in Japan in 1985. That exhibition toured five cities in Japan, including a showing at the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum.
The Lotus Sutra exhibition will be shown in Kobe until November 4, 2012.
[Adapted from an article in the August 25, 2012, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of Seikyo Shimbun]