Treasures of China featuring the Dazu Rock Carvings showcases the North American premiere of 48 ancient Chinese sculptures depicting a fusion of Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian beliefs, dating back as far as the 10th Century AD. The Dazu Rock Carvings are known worldwide for their large scale, complete conservation, display of nationality and life, and unmatched craftsmanship. Having only left China once before, these UNESCO World Heritage Site carvings represent an extremely rare glimpse of the most spectacular Chinese speleological (cave) art ever produced.
The Dazu Rock Carvings site represents 75 locations of cliffside carvings in Dazu County, composed of more than 50,000 statues and over 100,000 Chinese characters of inscriptions and epigraphs, with some statues measuring up to 37 meters long, dwarfing their visitors. Although many of the rock carvings are over 1,000 years old, the artifacts have been impeccably preserved. Chinese travelers were restricted from visiting the site until 1961 with foreign visitors not permitted until 1980 helping to conserve these historical masterpieces. Aside from their exclusivity and preservation, their historical, artistic, scientific, and appreciative value is unmatched in any other grottoes produced during any period before.
The 48 sculptures on loan to THEMUSEUM have been handpicked from the Beishan and Baodingshan locations in Dazu County, two of the most prolific sites in Dazu. They are making their North American debut in Kitchener, Ontario – an unprecedented opportunity to view some of China’s most exclusive national treasures.
The exhibition also includes a collection of contemporary peasant paintings from the China Three Gorges Museum in Chongqing, featuring typical examples describing the regional artistic features from across China with their distinctive painting styles and techniques. Chinese folk culture has a 5,000 year tradition with modern peasant painting emerging in the mid-1920s. Its application of imaginative distortions and flamboyant colours in its expression gives peasant painting a unique place in Chinese art and will be represented at THEMUSEUM by Dongfeng of Jilin, Huxian of Shanxi, Jinshan of Shanghai and Qijiang of Chongqing.
Finally, visitors will have the opportunity to purchase original rock sculptures and paintings inspired by the Dazu Rock Carvings and hand crafted by Chinese contemporary artists. Some of these pieces of art were created specifically for Treasures of China.