Crossroad: The Belief and Art of Kushan Dynasty

2017-12-27

"The Beliefs and Arts of Kushan Dynasty" exhibition is showing at Shanghai Museum, and will run through March 18 next year. 



As an ancient trade route across Eurasia, Silk Road not only promoted the economic and trade relations between the ancient Eurasian countries, but also acted as a bridge between different civilizations. While stimulating social economic development, it has made indelible contributions to the progress of human civilization. 

The communication between different civilizations promoted by the Silk Road forms a wonderful historical scroll. As time goes by, cultural blending and artistic absorbing happened successively on the vast Eurasian continent. As President Xi Jinping once said, "Civilizations are enriched by mutual learning and exchanges." It is museums'social responsibility to display such colorful histories with cultural relics. 


The cultural spirit of openness and inclusiveness is an important driving force in the history of cultural exchanges and mutual learning. From the 1st to the 4th century, the Kushan Empire, which included Central Asia and parts of South Asia, occupied the crossing area of the ancient Silk Road. The domination of Kushan had a profound impact on these areas indifferent aspects including politics, economy and religion. As a hub in the ancient Silk Road network, unification and political stability made Kushan a vital place for the communication between Han and Parthia, Rome and India. At the same time, the acceptance of various cultures and beliefs of peripheral areas not only promoted the cultural exchanges between East and West in the ancient times, but also contributed to diversiform characteristics of Kushan culture, and created far-reaching influence on the surrounding areas. 

The origin of Kushan culture is the nomadic civilization on the northern steppes of Asia. Since the founding of Kushan Dynasty, it had been influenced by the culture of Greece, Iran and India due to its special geographical location. Kushan Dynasty embraced all religions while attached more importance to Buddhism. The combination of Greek sculpture art and Buddhist doctrine in Kushan Dynasty accelerated the spread of Indian Buddhism to the surrounding region significantly. Besides, Kushan fused Hellenistic art into the local culture of Central Asia. The integration of different art styles happened in Kushan made the art of Central Asian more diverse in both content and form in the Christian era. 


This exhibition is designed to show the diversification of culture and art of Kushan Dynasty with the help of these distinctive historical relics, as well as the all-inclusive wisdom of Kushan people with their geographical advantages of holding the crossing area of Silk Road. On this account, we reveal the most important cultural spirit of the Silk Road –a spirit of openness and inclusiveness. 


Source: Shanghai Museum



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